A file photo of Lockheed Martin GMLRS practice round blasting away from a HIMARS launcher during US Army exercises at Fort Riley in Kansas (Image courtesy: Lockheed Martin)
Russia has once again told Ukraine that it should not “count on outside assistance in attempts to shake up” the situation inside Russia.
As the United States announced approximately $1.1 billion in additional security assistance for Ukraine, Moscow said that “no amount of money” will help the Kyiv regime to return under its control the people who “chose freedom instead of coercion”.
The reaction comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin prepares to formally announce the annexation of four regions of Ukraine – Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – after holding referendums over the past week. The West has dubbed the referendums as a “sham”.
The United States has maintained that it will never recognize the territory as anything other than a part of Ukraine. Simultaneously, the US Department of Defence (DoD) has also announced a $1.1 billion arms package under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) to build the “enduring strength” of its Armed Forces.
The Pentagon’s latest package to Kyiv includes 18 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and associated ammunition; 150 Armoured High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs); 150 Tactical Vehicles to tow weapons; 40 trucks and 80 trailers to transport heavy equipment; two radars for Unmanned Aerial Systems; 20 multi-mission radars and Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems.
The US will also deliver to Ukraine the tactical secure communications systems, surveillance systems, optics; Explosive ordnance disposal equipment; Body armour and other field equipment besides funding for training, maintenance, and sustainment.
Washington believes that Ukraine has leveraged the HIMARS system effectively and the delivery of 18 new HIMARS and associated ammunition, which is going to take a few years, will constitute a core component of Ukraine’s fighting force in the future.
Delivery of most of the other capabilities is expected to be done between the next six and 24 months.
In total, the US has now committed approximately $16.9 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since January 2021.
“What is it going for? Schools, hospitals, pipelines, gas pipelines, oil pipelines? For the purchase of teaching aids, the payment of material support to the poor, the fight against the pandemic? Of course not. The lion’s share will again go to the purchase of weapons for Kyiv and ‘dissolve’ in the pockets of those who allocate it,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told media in Moscow on Thursday.
Russia also alleged that Kyiv had sharply increased shelling as soon as the organisation of referendums in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions was announced.
“The strikes were deliberately aimed at mass gatherings of people in order to prevent them from voting,” said Zakharova.
Ukraine, meanwhile, reiterated that “as in the case of the Ukrainian Crimea”, the Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhya and Kherson regions remain sovereign territories of Ukraine and it has every right to restore its territorial integrity by military and diplomatic methods.
“Today, more than ever, we need unity and determination to protect the Transatlantic security and people in Europe and North America from Putin’s Russia. This includes a really tough response to Putin’s annexation plans,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in his address to La Toja Forum on Thursday.