While Russian President Vladimir Putin’s partial draft is expected to bolster his troops with up to 300,000 additional soldiers, Ukraine will see its supply of a critical weapons system more than doubled sometime in the future.
The Pentagon announced a new $1.1 billion security assistance package on Wednesday that includes funding for 18 of the US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS). Prior to this newest tranche of aid, the US had provided 16 HIMARS to Ukraine overall.
When delivered, the war-torn country will have 34 of the weapons systems that have been described as a “game changer” in the fight against Russia, assuming that none are destroyed or put out of service in the meantime.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization that applies to citizens in the reserves and those who have served in the army with “certain military specialties and relevant experience.” The draft, which is facing considerable opposition in Russia, has been widely described as an escalation of the war.
In the same address, Putin said that he would be willing to respond to what he alleged was “nuclear blackmail” from the West using his country’s own weapons, implying that nuclear strikes could be possible.
The US last announced that it was sending HIMARS to Ukraine more than two months ago. The four HIMARS allotted at the time brought Ukraine’s total up to 16.
The next 18 HIMARS may not be delivered to Ukraine for some time since the aid package is under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) rather than Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA). While PDA draws from Defense Department stocks, USAI “is an authority under which the United States procures capabilities from industry” and “represents a multi-year investment in critical capabilities to build the enduring strength of Ukraine’s Armed Forces,” a Defense Department release explained .
“This announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide additional priority capabilities to Ukraine in the mid- and long-term,” the release added.
It may take a year or longer for Ukraine to receive the weapons, the Associated Press reported, rather than the more immediate allocations under PDA.
In addition to the HIMARS themselves, the package also includes funding for HIMARS ammunition, 150 armored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs), 150 tactical vehicles for towing weapons, 40 trucks, 80 trailers and body armor, among other equipment.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted Wednesday that the 18 HIMARS and other “critical equipment” will bring the country closer to victory.
“A very timely decision showing that Russian blackmail does not work,” he added.
Newsweek reached out to Ukraine’s defense ministry for comment.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism