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The United States has announced its largest aid package to Ukraine to date, worth $6 billion. This package includes munitions for Patriot missile defense systems, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said are essential to changing the course of the war, but not the systems themselves. The announcement comes just days after a $1 billion tranche for Ukraine was announced following President Biden signing a foreign aid supplemental funding bill into law. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin emphasized America’s enduring commitment to Ukraine’s defense during a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.

The latest aid package will include critical interceptors for Ukraine’s Patriot and NASAMS air defense systems, counter-drone systems, artillery ammunition, air to ground munitions, and maintenance and sustainment support. While the package does not include the Patriots themselves, Zelensky has urged member nations to consider sending Patriot batteries. The additional munitions for the systems are expected to bolster Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s rocket barrages that target major cities and contribute to the country’s ability to defend itself effectively.

Zelensky has specifically requested seven more Patriots or similar air defense systems to defend the country’s airspace and change the situation on the ground. While some advanced air-defense systems, such as Patriots, have been credited with allowing Ukrainians to remain in their country and preventing Russians from taking out key government buildings, more are needed to protect civilians and warfighters alike. Air defense systems are crucial for protecting critical objects within the country and providing cover for troops advancing to the enemy in the ongoing conflict.

The US sent one Patriot battery to Ukraine in a previous aid package, but more are seen as necessary by Ukrainian troops on the frontlines. troops claim that having multiple Patriots around key towns and on the frontlines would provide better protection and control of the airspace. The latest aid package represents the 57th tranche of military equipment sent to Ukraine by the Pentagon since the fall of 2021 when Russian President Vladimir Putin began preparing for the invasion launched in February 2022. The weapons from the $1 billion package announced earlier are expected to be delivered to Ukraine soon from the Pentagon’s stockpile.

Despite the exclusion of Patriots in the latest aid package, the United States and other nations supporting Ukraine are pushing to provide more air-defense systems and interceptors. Zelensky’s call for additional Patriots reflects the urgent need for advanced air-defense capability to defend Ukraine’s airspace effectively and potentially change the trajectory of the war. As efforts continue to coordinate additional Patriot capabilities with other countries in the future, the focus remains on boosting Ukraine’s defense and preventing further territorial losses to Russian forces. The delivery of equipment from the latest aid package will take time, but the ongoing support from the US and other nations demonstrates a commitment to Ukraine’s defense amid the ongoing conflict with Russia.

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