The United States will send more ammunition to Ukraine, including rockets for the HIMARS launchers that have been credited with destroying Russian command posts and ammunition depots, the Pentagon said Monday.
The new shipment of up to $1 billion worth of weapons and supplies will come from the Pentagon’s own stockpiles, and will be the 18th such package of military aid since August 2021, Colin Kahl, the under secretary of defense for policy, told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon.
Most of the ammunition, including 75,000 shells for 155-millimeter howitzers and additional air-defense missiles, are resupplying weapons that have already been shipped to Kyiv.
One weapon not known to have been sent previously is the 120-millimeter mortar. The weapons will come with 20,000 rounds and be included in this new series of shipments. Mortars of that size are infantry weapons that generally can fire a projectile containing about seven pounds of high explosive to a range of approximately four and a half miles.
Mr. Kahl declined to say exactly how many guided rockets the United States has sent for use with HIMARS launchers thus far, beyond saying that the total was in the “multiple hundreds.” Noting that the last shipment of arms from the United States included a “tremendous number” of these rockets, Mr. Kahl said they had a significant impact on Ukraine’s ability to fight Russian troops.
Our Coverage of the Russia-Ukraine War
- On the Ground: As Russian troops appear to be preparing for new attacks in Ukraine’s east and south, Western officials say Russia’s critical manpower and equipment shortfalls could give Ukraine’s counteroffensive a better chance to succeed.
- Nuclear Shelter: The Russian military is using а nuclear power station in southern Ukraine as a fortress, stymying Ukrainian forces and unnerving locals, faced with intensifying fighting and the threat of a radiation leak.
- Refugees in Europe: The flow of people fleeing Ukraine has increased pressure across the region. Some cоuntries are paying shipping firms to offer new arrivals safe but tight quarters.
- Prison Camp Explosion: After a blast at a Russian detention camp killed at least 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war, Ukrainian officials said that they were building a case of a war crime committed by Russian forces.
“They have been very effective in hitting things that previously the Ukrainians had difficulty hitting reliably,” Mr. Kahl said, adding that the HIMARS “made it more difficult for the Russians to move forces around the battlefield.”
“They’ve had to move certain aspects back away from the HIMARS,” he said. “It’s slowed them down. It’s made it harder for them to resupply their forces.”
In an update on the state of fighting between Russia and Ukraine, Mr. Kahl said that conditions in eastern Ukraine had “essentially stabilized” and the focus of combat with Russian forces had shifted to the south, where Ukrainian troops were placing increasing pressure on Russian positions.
Calling the war the most intense conventional conflict in Europe since World War II, Mr. Kahl said that Russian troop losses since the Feb. 24 invasion have been significant, with potentially as many as 70,000 or 80,000 either killed or wounded in less than six months.
“That number might be a little lower or a little higher, but I think that’s kind of in the ballpark, which is pretty remarkable considering that the Russians have achieved none of Vladimir Putin’s objectives at the beginning of the war,” Mr. Kahl said.
Mr. Kahl noted that Russian forces have most likely lost between 3,000 and 4,000 tanks and other armored vehicles, and he credited some of those losses to Javelin anti-tank guided missiles the United States has provided to Ukrainian troops. An additional 1,000 Javelins and hundreds of AT-4 anti-tank rockets will go to Kyiv under the new aid package.
The new shipments will bring the total amount of military aid the United States has sent Ukraine to more than $9 billion since Russia invaded that country in February, Mr. Kahl said.
Separately, the United States is providing another $4.5 billion in financing to Ukraine’s government to help the country “maintain essential functions,” according to a statement Monday by the United States Agency for International Development. The money will be funneled through the World Bank in coordination with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and Ukraine will be given the funding in tranches, starting with a disbursement of $3 billion this month.
Carly Olson contributed reporting.