WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. officials announced on Tuesday that the United States will provide Ukraine with military assistance totalling $1.8 billion as part of a massive package that will for the first time include a Patriot missile battery and precision-guided bombs for their fighter jets. This news comes as the Biden administration prepares to welcome Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Washington, where he will meet with members of the United States Congress.

Officials from the United States, on the condition of anonymity, provided specifics of the assistance, despite the fact that it has not yet been made public. The assistance is a signal that the United States will be expanding the number and types of cutting-edge weapons that it will ship to Ukraine in order to strengthen the country’s air defences against the increasing number of missile attacks launched by Russia.

The package, which was expected to be announced on Wednesday, will include approximately $1 billion in weapons from Pentagon stocks and another $800 million in funding through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which funds weapons, ammunition, training, and other forms of assistance, according to officials. The announcement is expected to take place on Wednesday.

Zelenskyy and other officials from Ukraine have been putting pressure on Western authorities to equip their country with more advanced weapons, such as the Patriots, in order to assist it in its conflict with Russia. To date, the West has offered Ukraine less sophisticated surface-to-air missile systems to assist it in deterring Russian aerial assaults. However, the Patriot would be the most technologically advanced of these systems. As the conflict in Ukraine continues on, the timing of the announcement of the military help — which comes as Zelenskyy embarks on his first trip outside of Ukraine since the conflict began — sends a strong message of sustained support for Ukraine from the United States.

This support arrives at a time when Congress is on the verge of approving an additional $44.9 billion in assistance for Ukraine as part of a large spending measure. This would assure that the support of the United States government would continue into the following year and beyond, despite the fact that Republicans will assume control of the House in January. Some members of the Republican Party’s legislative delegation have voiced concerns about the support.

During the short trip, Zelenskyy is scheduled to meet with Vice President Biden at the White House, field questions from members of the press, and deliver a speech in front of Congress. Officials from the White House have stated that the purpose of the visit, which will take place ten months after the Russian invasion, is to assist emphasise the message that the United States will be there for Ukraine for as long as it takes to repel forces from Russia.

During their phone chat on December 11, Vice President Biden and Ambassador Zelenskyy discussed the prospect of the visit, and the White House formally extended an invitation to make the trip three days later.

The decision to send the Patriot battery was made despite warnings from Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the delivery of the advanced surface-to-air missile system would be seen as a provocative step and that the Patriot and any crews that accompanied it would be a legitimate target for Moscow’s military. Despite these warnings, the decision was made to send the Patriot battery.

However, the White House is disputing the concept that the delivery of the Patriot will result in an increased level of involvement on the part of the United States on behalf of Ukraine. According to a senior administration official who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity, Vice President Joe Biden has made it plain that his administration will “lean ahead” in backing Ukraine, but that it is “not want to engage in direct war with Russia.”

Because Ukrainian forces will need to be trained by American troops on how to operate the sophisticated system, it is unclear when exactly the Patriot will reach the front lines in Ukraine. The training could take several weeks to complete, and it is anticipated that it will take place in the training area located in Grafenwoehr, Germany. To this day, the United States and other Western nations have only provided Ukraine’s armed forces with training in European nations.

According to the officials, the package will also contain a quantity of Joint Direct Attack Munitions kits, abbreviated as JDAMs, that has not been announced. The kits will be used to modify enormous bombs by adding tail fins and precision navigation systems. This will allow them to be released and guided to a target, rather than just being dropped from a fighter jet onto a target.

The JDAMs are used by both fighter and bomber planes flown by the United States, and the Pentagon has been attempting to modify them so that Ukraine may also employ them.

To this point, the United States has been hesitant about supplying Ukraine with American fighter jets. Russia has issued a warning that the advanced aircraft could be seen as provocative, and the United States has stated, up until this point, that it believes other types of weaponry would be a better fit, citing the significant maintenance and training requirements that are required for those warplanes.

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