- The United States has approved more than $1 billion in security assistance for Ukraine since the Russian attack began.
- That aid, which includes anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, has been arriving just days after it was approved.
- Such deliveries “have never been done this quickly before,” the Pentagon’s top spokesman said on Wednesday.
The billions of dollars in security assistance, including weapons, that the United States has delivered to Ukraine in recent weeks has arrived at an unprecedented speed, a Pentagon official said Wednesday.
The latest aid package, worth $100 million, was announced on Tuesday. It is intended to “meet an urgent Ukraine need for additional Javelin anti-armor systems,” the US Department of Defense said.
That followed a $300 million security assistance package announced on April 1 and an $800 million package announced on March 16.
In total, the US has provided $1.7 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began on February 24 and more than $2.4 billion since the Biden administration took office.
At a news conference on Wednesday, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, John Kirby, emphasized the speed with which that assistance was delivered.
For recent aid packages, Kirby said, “from the time the president signs them until they actually arrive in the region, it can take as little as four days, and then it’s not like they’re sitting in storage for a week or two.”
At a briefing on March 31, a senior US defense official, speaking anonymously to describe developments in Ukraine, said the first installment of a $200 million package approved on March 12 came six days later and that the first installment of the $800 million package approved on March 16 arrived on March 20.
“We’re able to get this material because we’re being very careful and nimble in how these ground shipments are going,” Kirby said Wednesday. “We can get him to the Ukraine and often to the fight within 48 hours sometimes. I mean, that’s unbelievably fast.”
Kirby added that a $350 million security assistance package that was approved on February 26 “was completed in about three weeks.”
Such deliveries “have never been done this quickly before,” Kirby said.
The April 1 package was authorized under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, through which the US procures items from American companies. Other packages such as direct withdrawals from US stocks have been approved.
The United States has been quick to provide anti-aircraft and anti-armor weapons, like Stinger and Javelin missiles, which US officials say are best suited to the threats Ukrainian forces face. The March 16 package included 800 Stingers and 2,000 Javelins, bringing the total of each provided by the US to 1,400 and 4,600, respectively.
The $300 million package announced on April 1 included machine guns and ammunition, medical supplies, secure communications systems, armored vehicles, night vision devices, drones and anti drone systems.
Among the drones in the April 1 package were the Switchblade tactical unmanned systems, a loitering munition, or “kamikaze drone”.
Kirby said Wednesday that “a very small number” of Ukrainian soldiers who have been training in the US since the fall have received training with Switchblades.
“We took the opportunity, having them still in the country, to give them a couple of days of Switchblade training so they can come back, and they will be back soon, back home, to train others in the Ukrainian military,” Kirby said, adding that a person could be “adequately trained” on Switchblade in about two days.
Switchblades come in two variants, a lighter one designed to destroy infantry and artillery targets and a heavier version designed to take out tanks and armored vehicles.
Speaking to lawmakers on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin indicated both variants were headed for Ukraine, saying they “will move as quickly as possible.”
On Wednesday, Kirby declined to confirm that both variants would be shipped, but said the United States would continue talks with the Ukrainians “and help them get more if they need it.”
“We’re going to keep doing it as long as we can, as fast as we can,” Kirby said, “and we’re going to be as careful as possible so that flow can continue, because they’re obviously in a very, very active fight.”