WASHINGTON — The United States will provide Ukraine with up to $1.2 billion to purchase additional air defense missiles, artillery ammunition and satellite imagery from commercial companies, the Pentagon announced Tuesday. The financial aid comes as part of a program called the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which allows Kyiv to purchase goods directly from the defense industry.
“The U.S.A.I. gives us the ability to leverage the power and the capabilities of the private sector in order to support Ukraine’s medium and long term security assistance needs,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, the Pentagon spokesman, on Tuesday afternoon in a briefing to reporters.
From 2016 to 2021, the U.S. gave Kyiv more than $1.32 billion as part of the same initiative, according to government records. The new aid announcement brings the total provided under the same initiative since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, in February 2022, to nearly $14.6 billion.
Funds provided as part of the initiative have gone to purchase attack drones, Javelin anti-tank missiles, Soviet-caliber and NATO-standard artillery ammunition, coastal defense missiles, armored riverine boats, M1 Abrams tanks, NASAMS air-defense missile launchers, M142 HIMARS vehicles and the guided rockets they fire among many others.
The goods will arrive in Ukraine in the months and years to come, as defense companies produce them. The aid announced on Tuesday is separate from the 37 previously announced aid packages of military hardware taken from the Pentagon’s existing stockpile since August 2021, which is cumulatively worth at least $21 billion.
A major focus of the $1.2 billion in new funds for Ukraine will go to purchase air-defense missiles for Kyiv to use in repelling Russian aerial attacks, General Ryder said. Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, has been targeted repeatedly by Russian strikes, including on Monday and early Tuesday.
“We’re going to continue to rush ground-based air defense capabilities and munitions to help Ukraine control its sovereign skies and to help Ukraine defend its citizens from Russian cruise missiles and Iranian drones,” he said. “This is something that we’re going to keep after both in the near term and the long term.”
General Ryder also confirmed reports that an American-made Patriot air-defense system provided to Ukraine shot down a Russian Kinzhal missile last Thursday.
The Kinzhal, which is an air-launched version of an Iskander ballistic missile, is believed to meet the definition of a hypersonic weapon — namely that it can fly and maneuver at speeds equal to or greater than five times the speed of sound, a feature meant to defeat antimissile defenses.
In addition to a single U.S.-provided Patriot system, the Ukrainians are also operating one provided by the Netherlands, General Ryder said, but he deferred questions to the Ukrainian government on which one had been used to engage the Russian Kinzhal.
Aishvarya Kavi contributed reporting.