By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (April 19, 2022) -- As the conflict in Ukraine changes, the types of security assistance the U.S. is sending changes as well, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said.
Last week, the U.S. announced another $800 million in security assistance to Ukraine. It's the seventh package of weapons, ammunition, vehicles and protective equipment the U.S. has provided to Ukraine since August of 2021.
During a briefing today at the Pentagon, Kirby told reporters that what's being sent to Ukraine is done so in consultation with that country, and what's included is tailored to what's needed at the time to meet the needs of the Ukrainian military for the conflict they are in.
In February, Russians were attacking the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv, Kirby said. Concerns were high then that Kyiv would fall. The U.S. provided the Ukrainians what was needed then, for that fight -- Javelin missiles. Kirby said they played an important role in preventing Russians from taking the city.
Now the conflict has changed, with the Russians turning away from Kyiv and toward the eastern part of Ukraine -- in the Donbas. As a result, the makeup of U.S. security assistance has now shifted to help the Ukrainians fight there instead.
"It's the middle of April, the Russians have had to recalibrate," Kirby said. "They're focusing on the Donbas. That is a different terrain. That is a different fight. It requires different capabilities for both sides."
During what he described as "iterative" conversations with the Ukrainians about how the U.S. could help, it was artillery support that was requested. And last week, the U.S. responded by promising 18 howitzers, along with 40,000 rounds of ammunition to go with them.
What the U.S. is sending to Ukraine now, Kirby said, is what the Ukrainians are asking for, tailored for the fight they are in -- a fight that is expected to continue to change in unpredictable ways as the conflict progresses.
"Everything we're sending is a result of iterative conversations that we're having with the Ukrainians, literally in real time, about what they need, and what we can provide," Kirby said. "We do the best we can with each package to tailor it to the need at the time. And now the need has changed, because now the war has changed."
While Kirby didn't have any announcements about future security packages, he did say it was "within the realm of the possible" that the Ukrainians would want additional artillery support and rounds to go along with them -- and that the U.S. would "do everything we can" to meet that requirement.
Beyond that, he said, future security assistance packages bound for Ukraine would continue to be specifically tailored to what the Ukrainians need, as they need it, to meet the challenges they face as the conflict on the ground continues to evolve.
"We've got to make sure that we're helping [Ukraine] in the most effective way and we believe we are," Kirby said. "And we'll see what ... future packages look like. But I guarantee, whatever they look like, they're going to be tailored based on the Ukrainian's needs, in the moment, and what ... they most require."
This most recent security assistance package for Ukraine, worth $800 million, was announced April 13. It includes 18 155 mm Howitzers, along with 40,000 artillery rounds. Also included are the AN/TPQ-36 counter artillery and AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel air surveillance radar systems.
To move Ukrainian troops around the battlefield, the package includes 100 armored Humvee vehicles, 200 M113 armored personnel carriers and 11 Mi-17 helicopters. The helicopters will augment the five Mi-17 helicopters sent to Ukraine earlier this year.
Within 48 hours of the approval of that security assistance package, Kirby said, the first shipment was on its way to Ukraine.