The U.S. will provide more ammunition for the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) in Ukraine as part of a new $550 million security assistance package to aid in its ongoing war with Russia, National Security Council (NSC) Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said Monday.
The announcement came days after Russia said that it had destroyed more than 100 U.S.-made missiles for HIMARS in a strike on a Ukrainian ammo depot that it said killed 120 Ukrainian troops, technical specialists and others. Newsweek was not able to independently verify Russia’s report at the time, and did not receive any responses when it contacted the defense ministries of Russian and Ukraine for confirmation and comment.
The HIMARS ammunition in the new U.S. package will provide more missiles for a weapon system that has been described by one former U.S. army general as a “game changer” in Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion. The U.S. has sent 16 HIMARS to Ukraine in total. The newest four arrived on Monday, Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s defense minister, announced on Twitter.
“We have proven to be smart operators of this weapon,” Reznikov tweeted. “The sound of the #HIMARS volley has become a top hit of this summer at the front lines!”
Some U.S. officials, like Reznikov, have touted Ukraine’s use of the HIMARS against Russia. U.S. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a news conference last month that Russia had so far failed to take out any of the systems, something Russia has since contradicted.
The new $550 million security assistance package also includes ammunition for 155 mm artillery systems, or howitzers, that have already been supplied to Ukraine, Kirby said, speaking to reporters at White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre‘s press briefing.
He added that the new funds would mean that President Joe Biden has now authorized more than $8 billion in security and materiel assistance under presidential drawdown authority since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. It is also Biden’s 17th time Biden has authorized a security assistance package using his drawdown authority since he took office, Kirby said.
“Thank you @POTUS for your leadership, robust support of [Ukraine] and understanding that [Russia] is a threat to entire civilized world,” he wrote. “Together we are defending values of freedom common to both [Ukraine] & [the U.S.]. New defense assistance package is bringing us closer to victory.”
Newsweek reached out to the U.S. Defense Department and the defense ministries of Russia and Ukraine for comment.