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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Biden arms Ukraine with £600m ‘biggest and most powerful’ arsenal to end Putin’s invasion

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The US president announced the additional measures last night as experts warn of an incoming Russian advance in the east of Ukraine. The package will bring the total military aid since Russian forces invaded in February to more than $2.5billion (£1.9billion). It will include artillery systems, rounds, armoured personal carriers and unmanned coastal defence boats.

Biden said he had also approved the transfer of additional helicopters, saying equipment provided to Ukraine “has been critical” as it confronts the invasion.

He added: “We cannot rest now. As I assured President Zelensky, the American people will continue to stand with the brave Ukrainian people in their fight for freedom.”

The new package includes 11 Mi-17 helicopters that had been earmarked for Afghanistan before the US-backed government collapsed last year.

Ut also includes 18 155mm howitzers, along with 40,000 artillery rounds, counter-artillery radars, 200 armoured personnel carriers and 300 additional “Switchblade” drones.

It is the first time howitzers – a large towed artillery gun that fires shells high into the sky to drop on their targets – have been provided to Ukraine by the US.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said some of the systems, like the howitzers and radars, will require additional training for Ukrainian forces.

He added: “We’re aware of the clock and we know time is not our friend.”

John Spencer, a retired US Army major and expert on urban warfare at the Madison Policy Forum, said he was pleased to see that the US was sending artillery and artillery rounds.

He explained: “You need these bigger, more powerful weapons … to match what Russia is bringing to try to take eastern Ukraine,”

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Weapons manufacturer Thales says the system is “optimised to provide defence against air threats including fixed-wing Fighter Ground Attack aircraft and late unmasking Attack Helicopters”.

Britain’s anti-tank rockets have come in the form of what are called Javelins and Next-Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapons Systems (NLAWs).

Weapons expert and fellow at Magdalene College, Cambridge, Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, told Express.co.uk that these weapons have made a “huge impact” already.

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