US unveils $2bn arms package for Kyiv

Published June 10, 2023
A satellite image shows possible planned location of UAV manufacturing plant in Russia’s Alabuga Special Economic Zone, as evidence of new Russian-Iran cooperation, in this handout acquired on June 9. — White House via Reuters
A satellite image shows possible planned location of UAV manufacturing plant in Russia’s Alabuga Special Economic Zone, as evidence of new Russian-Iran cooperation, in this handout acquired on June 9. — White House via Reuters

WASHINGTON: The United States on Friday announced a $2.1-billion military aid package for Ukraine, just as Kyiv appeared to be opening its long-awaited counter-offensive aimed at driving Russia from the country.

The package included missiles for Patriot air defence systems, artillery rounds, drones and laser-guided rocket system munitions.

The new arms, illustrate “the continued commitment to both Ukraine’s critical near-term capabilities as well as the enduring capacity of Ukraine’s Armed Forces to defend its territory and deter Russian aggression over the long term,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

It took to $40.4 billion the value of military supplies the United States has provided Ukraine since early 2021, most of it since Russia invaded the country on February 24, 2022.

It came at a crucial point in the war. Ukraine has been stockpiling weaponry and training forces in preparation for a likely gruelling land campaign to try to force Russian troops to retreat from the large sections of south-eastern and southern Ukraine which they occupy.

Meanwhile, the White House said on Friday that Russia appeared to be deepening its defence cooperation with Iran and had received hundreds of one-way attack drones that it is using to strike Ukraine.

Citing newly declassified information, the White House said the drones, or Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), were built in Iran, shipped across the Caspian Sea and then used by Russian forces against Ukraine.

“Russia has been using Iranian UAVs in recent weeks to strike Kyiv and terrorise the Ukrainian population, and the Russia-Iran military partnership appears to be deepening,” White House spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

“We are also concerned that Russia is working with Iran to produce Iranian UAVs from inside Russia.” Kirby said the US had information that Russia was receiving materials from Iran required to build a drone manufacturing plant that could be fully operational early next year.

“We are releasing satellite imagery of the planned location of this UAV manufacturing plant in Russias Alabuga Special Economic Zone,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 10th, 2023

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