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As President Joe Biden previewed at the NATO summit, the Pentagon on Friday unveiled an $820 million weapons package for Ukraine, including several more advanced air defense systems, TURAN's Washington correspondent reports.

$770 million of the assistance will be provided under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which allows the Pentagon to procure the weapons from defense contractors, while the remaining $50 million in security aid will come from presidential drawdown authority, which allows the Defense Department to send Ukraine weapons from its own stockpiles, acting Pentagon press secretary Todd Breasseale said in a statement.

The aid also follows a separate $450 million shipment of military aid to Ukraine announced last week, which included four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and patrol boats, among other equipment.

With Friday’s announcement, the U.S. has committed $7.6 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration, including $6.9 billion since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24.

The presidential drawdown authorization is the fourteenth drawdown of equipment from DOD inventories for Ukraine that the president has authorized since August 2021. Capabilities in this package include additional ammunition for HIMARS.

Under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, the Pentagon will provide Ukraine with:

- Two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems;

- Up to 150,000 rounds of 155 mm artillery ammunition; and

- Four additional counter-artillery radars.

Speaking to reporters Friday afternoon, a senior Pentagon official said that with the recent deliveries of HIMARS from the U.S. Ukrainian forces "have had good success" in employing these longer-range artillery systems, to include targeting Russian command posts.

Fighting continues in the Donbas, the official said, with high casualties on both sides and very little ground changing hands.

In the meantime, the Pentagon doesn't believe there is any credence to Russia saying its retreat from Snake Island was a gesture of goodwill.

"We view this development as that the Ukrainians were very successful at applying significant pressure on the Russians, including by using Harpoon missiles that they recently acquired to attack a resupply ship. When you realize how barren and deserted Snake Island is, you understand the importance of resupply. So, the Ukrainians made it very hard for the Russians to sustain their operations there made them very vulnerable to Ukrainian strikes. So, that of course, is why Russia left the island," the official said.

The result of this is that it does make it a lot easier for Ukraine to defend Odesa and in the future to be able to open those sea lanes without Russia controlling Snake Island, the official added.

Alex Raufoglu

Washington D.C.

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