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US expected to provide $6 billion to fund long-term weapons contracts for Ukraine, officials say

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is expected to announce Friday that it will provide about $6 billion in long-term military aid to Ukraine, U.S. officials said, adding that it will include much sought after munitions for Patriot air defense systems.
The officials said the aid package will be funded through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which pays for longer-term contracts with the defense industry and means that it could take many months or years for the weapons to arrive. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details not yet made public.
The new funding — the largest tranche of USAI aid sent to date – will include a wide array of munitions for air defense, such as the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAM) and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), as well as the Patriot munitions, Switchblade and Puma drones, counter drone systems and artillery.
The announcement is expected to come as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin convenes a virtual meeting on Friday of defense officials from Europe and around the world to discuss international aid for Ukraine. The gathering — created by Austin and known as the Ukraine Defense Contact Group — has been meeting about monthly for the past two years, and is the primary forum for weapons contributions to Kyiv for the war.
It follows the White House decision earlier this week to approve the delivery of $1 billion in weapons and equipment to Ukraine. Those weapons include a variety of ammunition, including air defense munitions and large amounts of artillery rounds that are much in demand by Ukrainian forces, as well as armored vehicles and other weapons.
That aid, however, will get to Ukraine quickly because it is being pulled off Pentagon shelves, including in warehouses in Europe.
The large back-to-back packages are the result of the new infusion of about $61 billion in funding for Ukraine that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden on Wednesday. And they provide weapons Kyiv desperately needs to stall gains being made by Russian forces in the war.
Bitterly divided members of Congress deadlocked over the funding for months, forcing House Speaker Mike Johnson to cobble together a bipartisan coalition to pass the bill. The $95 billion foreign aid package, which also included billions for Israel and Taiwan, passed the House on Saturday, and the Senate approved it Tuesday.
Senior U.S. officials have described dire battlefield conditions in Ukraine, as troops run low on munitions and Russian forces make gains.
Since Russia’s February 2022 invasion, the U.S. has sent more than $44 billion worth of weapons, maintenance, training and spare parts to Ukraine.
Among the weapons provided to Ukraine were Abrams M1A1 battle tanks. But Ukraine has now sidelined them in part because Russian drone warfare has made it too difficult for them to operate without detection or coming under attack, two U.S. military officials told The Associated Press.

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