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US expected to send $450m in security aid to Ukraine: officials

The United States is expected to provide an additional $450 million in security aid to Ukraine, including more long-range rocket systems, two U.S. officials told Reuters on Thursday.

Moscow’s forces are advancing into eastern Ukraine in a bid to capture the industrial heartland known as Donbass, where Ukraine fears some of its troops may be surrounded by a Russian pincer movement.

One of the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said an announcement was expected later Thursday that the latest package is expected to include four additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).

The manager added that package details could change at the last minute.

Earlier Thursday, Ukraine announced it had received the first tranche of HIMARS, a powerful long-range weapons system that Kyiv hopes can help turn the tide in the months-long battle.

The latest package comes after President Joe Biden’s administration last week announced a new $1 billion arms injection for Ukraine, which includes anti-ship rocket systems, artillery rockets, howitzers and ammunition.

The war has entered a phase of brutal attrition in recent weeks, with Russian forces concentrating overwhelming artillery firepower on Donbass, which Moscow claims on behalf of the separatists.

Ukraine says it needs the HIMARS systems to better match the range of Russian rocket systems it says are widely used to strike Ukrainian positions in the Donbass.

Washington said it received assurances from Kyiv that these longer-range weapons would not be used to attack Russian territory, fearing an escalation of the conflict.

US officials have said that while HIMARS are important to Ukrainian forces, no weapon system alone can change the war.

Moscow has warned it will hit targets in Ukraine they “have yet to hit” if the West provides longer-range missiles to Ukraine for use in high-precision mobile rocket systems.

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Post expires at 8:55pm on Sunday July 3rd, 2022