The United States will send another $820 million in security assistance to Ukraine as Russia’s invasion of the country stretches into its fifth month, the Biden administration announced Friday.
Up to $50 million worth of drawdown equipment will come from Department of Defense inventories, including additional ammunition for high mobility rockets. Another $770 million will be Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funds, an “authority under which the United States procures capabilities from industry rather than delivering equipment that is drawn down from DoD stocks,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
Through USAI, the U.S. will provide Ukraine with two national advanced surface-to-air missile systems, as many as 150,00 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition and four more counter-artillery radars.
“This announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide additional capabilities to Ukraine's Armed Forces,” Pentagon press secretary Todd Breasseale wrote in part.
The new allocation brings the Biden administration’s total security contributions to Ukraine to $7.6 billion, at least $6.9 billion of which was given to the country after Russia first invaded in late February, per federal officials. It is the 14th package of military weapons and equipment transferred to Ukraine from Defense Department stocks since August 2021.
Earlier Friday, a Russian airstrike on residential areas killed at least 21 people near the Ukrainian port of Odesa, authorities reported, a day after the withdrawal of Moscow’s forces from an island in the Black Sea had seemed to ease the threat to the city.
Video of the attack before daybreak showed the charred ruins of buildings in the small town of Serhiivka, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Odesa. The Ukrainian president’s office said warplanes fired three missiles that struck an apartment building and a campsite.
Ukrainian authorities interpreted the attack as payback for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Snake Island a day earlier, though Moscow portrayed their departure as a “goodwill gesture” to help unblock exports of grain.
Russian forces took control of the island in the opening days of the war in the apparent hope of using it as a staging ground for an assault on Odesa, Ukraine’s biggest port and the headquarters of its navy.
Russian missiles struck the Kyiv region last weekend after weeks of relative calm around the capital, and an airstrike Monday on a shopping mall in the central city of Kremenchuk killed at least 19 people.
Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy expressed outrage over Friday’s attack.
“These missiles, Kh-22, were designed to destroy aircraft carriers and other large warships, and the Russian army used them against an ordinary nine-story building with ordinary civilian people,” he said.
Twenty-one people were killed, including children, said Serhii Bratchuk, a spokesman for the regional administration. Thirty-eight others, including six children and a pregnant woman, were reported hospitalized. Most of the victims were in the apartment building, Ukrainian emergency officials said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated that Moscow is not targeting residential areas.
Oleh Zhdanov, an independent Ukrainian military analyst, said the Russian pullback from Snake Island bears “colossal psychological significance” for Ukraine.
“Snake Island is key for controlling the Black Sea and could help cover the Russian attack if the Kremlin opted for an amphibious landing operation in Odesa or elsewhere in the region,” he said. “Now those plans are pushed back.”
Ukraine’s military claimed a barrage of its artillery and missiles forced the Russians to flee the island in two small speedboats. The exact number of troops withdrawn was not disclosed.