The U.S. is set to announce a new weapons package for Ukraine later this week that will include sending four more High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers as well as additional precision-guided rockets and artillery ammunition.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday previewed the upcoming security aid announcement following the latest meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, where senior defense officials from more than 50 countries met virtually to discuss the latest international weapons donation efforts.
“Russia’s cruel and unprovoked invasion has spurred the international community into action. And today’s meeting is just another sign of the way that nations of goodwill are rising to the moment. The security assistance that we are rushing to Ukraine is making a real difference in real time,” Austin said in a press briefing following the meeting. “Ukrainian forces are now using long-range rocket systems to great effect, including HIMARS provided by the United States and other systems from our allies and partners.”
With the new weapons package to be announced soon, Austin noted the U.S. will have now committed 16 HIMARS to Ukraine, with 12 of the Lockheed Martin [LMT]-built launchers having already been delivered to support Kyiv in its ongoing fight against Russia’s invasion.
“We’re committed to sending more HIMARS munitions and precision-guided artillery ammunition and other vital support,” Austin told reporters. “The Ukrainians have made excellent use of HIMARS and you can see the impact on the battlefield.”
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said during a discussion with the Atlantic Council on Tuesday his country likely needs around 50 long-range rocket systems, such as HIMARS and M270 MLRS launchers, to “effectively hold back” Russia and at least 100 such systems “for an effective counter-offensive” (Defense Daily, July 19).
Austin said the Ukraine Defense Contact Group was able to hear directly from Reznikov and Lt. Gen. Yevhen Moisiuk, Ukraine’s deputy chief of defense, during Wednesday’s meeting on Kyiv’s urgent equipment requirements and the latest battlefield updates.
“They described how Russia is amassing artillery and rocket fire in its desperate, aggressive push to seize sovereign Ukrainian territory in the Donbas,” Austin said. “Ukraine needs the firepower and the ammunition to withstand this barrage and to strike back at the Russian weapons launching these attacks from inside Ukraine’s own territory. So we understand the urgency and we’re pushing hard to maintain and intensify the momentum of donations.”
From the meeting, Austin cited the Czech Republic, Poland and the U.K. as “working with their domestic industrial bases to find ways to help Ukraine even more quickly” and pointed to Australia and partners in the Baltic region for their efforts to “continue to generously deliver items from their own stockpiles.”
“I’m very thankful to these countries and to all the countries that have offered aid. I’m confident that these efforts will continue to grow,” Austin said.