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US to send $1.8 billion in aid to Ukraine, including Patriot system: Media

A US official has said that President Joe Biden’s administration will soon announce a $1.8 billion military aid package for Kyiv, which for the first time will include a Patriot missile battery and precision-guided bombs for Ukrainian warplanes. , amid reports that the country’s war-torn President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, may visit Washington, DC.

US officials described details of the aid package on condition of anonymity Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

Media organizations citing unnamed sources also reported on Wednesday that Zelenskyy may travel to Washington, DC to meet with Biden and visit the US Congress. Zelenskyy’s spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on the trip and security concerns could still force the Ukrainian leader to change his plans, a source told Reuters news agency.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter Tuesday that there would be a session of Congress on Wednesday night, which would have a “very special focus on democracy,” further increasing the Speculation that the Ukrainian president would visit the US capital.

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The $1.8 billion aid package that Biden will announce, according to the AP, signals an expansion in the types of advanced weaponry the United States is sending to Ukraine to bolster the country’s air defenses against what has been an increasing barrage of Russian missile attacks.

The package, which is expected to be announced Wednesday, according to the AP, will include about $1 billion in weapons from Pentagon stockpiles and another $800 million in funding through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which funds arms, ammunition, training and other assistance. the officials said.

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The Biden administration’s decision to send in the Patriot missile system comes despite Russian threats that the delivery of such an advanced surface-to-air missile battery would be considered a provocative step and that the system, and any crew accompanying him would be a legitimate target for the Moscow military.

It is unknown when the Patriot will arrive on the front line in Ukraine and US forces must also train the Ukrainians on how to use the high-tech system. That training could take several weeks and is expected to take place at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany.

All training of Ukrainian forces by the US and Western allies has taken place in European countries.

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The long-awaited announcement of the aid package comes as the US Congress is about to pass another $44.9 billion in assistance for Ukraine as part of a major spending bill. That would ensure that US support for Kyiv continues next year and beyond, when Republicans take control of the House of Representatives in January.

Some Republican politicians have expressed caution about the amount of US aid being funneled to Ukraine.

Also included in the soon-to-be-announced package will be an undisclosed number of joint direct attack munitions, or JDAM, kits, officials said.

The kits will be used to modify bombs by adding tail fins and precision navigation systems so that instead of simply being dropped from a fighter jet on a target, they can be guided to the target upon release.

JDAMs are used by American fighter planes and bombers, and the Pentagon has been working to modify them so they can be used by the Ukrainian air force.

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Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials have pressed Western leaders to provide more advanced weapons, particularly for air defense, and the Patriot would be the most advanced surface-to-air missile system the West has given Ukraine to help repel attacks. Russian airlines.

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Reluctance to supply high-tech weaponry.

Washington has been reluctant to give Ukraine US fighter jets and Moscow has warned that advanced jets would also be seen as a provocation.

Instead of providing Ukraine with planes, the Pentagon is helping Kyiv find innovative ways to upgrade its existing fleet with the latest capabilities available in US fighters.

The soon-to-be-announced aid package will also include an undisclosed number of rockets for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, thousands of artillery and mortar shells, trucks and HARM anti-radiation air-to-surface missiles.

Urgent pleas from Kyiv and the devastating destruction of Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, including the loss of electricity and heating during the winter, ultimately overwhelmed US reservations about supplying the Patriots, officials said.

French President Emmanuel Macron also said on Tuesday that France had delivered more air defense missile systems and other weapons to Ukraine and would send more early next year.

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“In recent days, France has sent Ukraine more weapons, rocket launchers, Crotale (air defense batteries), equipment beyond what we had already done,” Macron told French television TF1 and LCI.

“We are also working with the minister of the armed forces [Sebastien Lecornu] be able to deliver useful weapons and ammunition again in the first quarter [of 2023] so that the Ukrainians can defend themselves against shelling,” he said.

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Planned future shipments include new Caesar mobile artillery units, but Macron did not provide precise figures.

The French president said the number “will depend” on the outcome of ongoing talks with Denmark, which had ordered the Caesar weapons from France and may agree to deliver at least some of them to Kyiv.

Since the invasion of Russia in February, France has sent to Ukraine 18 Caesar units and a 155mm howitzer mounted on a six-wheel truck chassis, capable of firing shells at ranges of more than 40 km (25 miles).

Macron said he had two “red lines” when it came to arms deliveries: that it did not affect France’s ability to defend itself and that it did not make Paris a co-belligerent in the war.

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The weapons were to “allow Ukraine to defend itself” against a relentless barrage of Russian missiles and drone strikes, he said.

Paris has already delivered anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, as well as armored personnel carriers.

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