The United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinkannounced on Wednesday a new military aid package for Ukraine from 1,850 million dollars that for the first time includes the Patriot anti-aircraft defense system.
(Also read: Zelensky travels to the US to meet with Biden and give a speech in Congress)
The leader of US diplomacy made this announcement shortly before the President of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelensky, will be received by his US counterpart, Joe Biden, at the White House, on his first trip abroad since the start of the war in the European country.
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For weeks there had been speculation about the delivery of these anti-aircraft batteries that kyiv had insistently requested to intercept Russian missiles that have destroyed key infrastructure in Ukraine.
“Today’s package includes for the first time the Patriot air defense system, capable of shooting down cruise missiles, short-range ballistic missiles and aircraft at higher altitudes than previously provided defense systems,” Blinken said in a statement.
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The ad includes a Patriot anti-aircraft battery and ammunition, as well as artillery for other defensive systems, vehicles, weapons, and grenades.
A Patriot battery typically includes target-sensing and tracking radar, computers, generators, and a control station, as well as eight mini-launchers with four ready-to-fire missiles.
With this new package, the military aid delivered by the United States to Ukraine amounts to 21.3 billion dollars since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24.
The US Secretary of State claimed that for the past few months Moscow has been trying to “wipe Ukraine off the map” and is now using the winter cold as a weapon against the Ukrainian population.
(See also: Russia attacks kyiv with drones ahead of Putin’s visit to Belarus)
“We will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes so that kyiv can defend itself and strengthen itself at a possible negotiating table” with Russia, Blinken said.
The US capital is preparing this Wednesday to receive Zelenski, who he will meet with Biden at the White House and give a speech before both houses of Congress.
His speech comes at a key moment, as some members of the Republican Party have expressed doubts about whether Washington should continue giving military aid to Ukraine because of the high cost to American taxpayers.