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US sending $325 million in more military aid to Ukraine

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The U.S. is sending Ukraine about $325 million in additional military aid, including an enormous amount of artillery rounds and ammunition as the launch of the spring offensive against Russian forces approaches, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

The U.S. has declined to say exactly how much munitions will be sent to Ukraine, but the latest package resembles other recent deliveries, which included rockets for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, and howitzers, as well as an array of other missiles and anti-tank ammunition. It will all be pulled from Pentagon stocks, so it can go quickly to the front lines.

A Ukrainian official warned on Monday that it is only a matter of time before his country is militarily prepared to begin its counteroffensive. Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, told The Associated Press in an interview in Kyiv that the offensive against Russian troops will start when Ukraine’s troops are ready. And he said deliveries of armored vehicles and ammunition are key to the launch.

The recent leak of classified information included a number of documents detailing the timeline for weapon deliveries to Ukraine and previously unreleased assessments about how quickly the Ukrainian military could run out of critical air-defense munitions. They included projections that missile stocks could be exhausted as soon as late this month or May, which would provide greater opportunities for devastating Russian air and artillery strikes.

Danilov echoed other Ukrainian leaders who said they didn’t see the leak as gravely damaging future offensives, stressing that Ukraine doesn’t share highly sensitive information with anyone.

The announcement of the new U.S. aid comes before Friday’s meeting in Germany of defense and military leaders from more than 50 countries to discuss and plan for future Ukraine security assistance. The Ukraine Contact Group was formed about a year ago by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to better coordinate the military aid, weapons and training for Ukraine. Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, will both attend the meeting.

The new U.S. aid package includes demolition munitions to clear routes, more than 9 million rounds of small arms ammunition, four logistics support vehicles, spare parts, and equipment for harbor security and maintenance and repair.

Officials have said the weapons and other equipment will help as Ukraine prepares to shift from what has been a long and bloody winter stalemate, focused on heavy fighting in Ukraine’s east, particularly around the town of Bakhmut in the Donetsk province.

While the fighting has been brutal, not much territory has changed hands. Moscow controls about half of Donetsk, and capturing Bakhmut would be a stepping stone to seizing the remaining half.

This is the 36th package of Pentagon stocks to go to Ukraine since the war began in February 2022, and it brings the total U.S. military aid to nearly $36 billion.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine