By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (June 24, 2022) -- In the last month, the U.S. pledged more than $1.4 billion in security assistance to Ukraine. Some of that assistance is aimed at helping the Ukrainian military better defend their coast and waterways.
On Thursday, the U.S. promised $450 million in security assistance through presidential drawdown authority -- the 13th such outlay this year. Included in that package were 18 coastal and riverine patrol boats.
Earlier this month, the U.S. pledged $1 billion in support through both presidential drawdown authority and the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. Included in that support package were, among other things, two Harpoon coastal defense systems.
Included in the package announced Thursday are two 35-foot, small-unit riverine craft; six 40-foot maritime combat craft; and ten 34-foot, Dauntless Sea Ark patrol boats.
"These are largely to protect the riverways and to enable Ukraine to maintain its control of the riverways. They can also be used in ... close-in coastal areas," said a senior defense official during a briefing today at the Pentagon.
To contribute to coastal defense, the official said, the United States, along with partner and allied nations, have provided the Harpoon system. Earlier this month, the U.S. committed to the donation of two Harpoon launch systems, which the Ukrainians have asked to have mounted on trucks. Other nations have also agreed to provide the Harpoon missiles themselves to be used in those launchers.
"This will be helpful in enabling the Ukrainians to defend ... Odessa and other positions along the Black Sea coast," the official said.
In addition to the coastal and riverine patrol boats, the latest presidential drawdown authority security assistance package to Ukraine includes four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS; 36,000 rounds of 105 mm ammunition; 18 tactical vehicles with which to move 155 mm artillery; 1,200 Mk 19 grenade launchers; and 2,000 machine guns.
"Obviously with each of these packages, we [also] provide a lot of spare parts," the official said. "We want to make sure they can keep the systems up and running."
The United States is not alone in providing military assistance to the Ukrainians, who have been defending their sovereignty against an unprovoked and illegal invasion by Russia since February.
"This isn't just a U.S.-only effort," the official said. "We're really proud of Secretary Austin's leadership through the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, where he has brought together ... roughly 50 defense ministers from around the world, certainly many Europeans but also others from other parts of the world, to show their support for Ukraine and to provide tangible support."
Last week in Brussels, the official said, 50 nations participated in the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting.
"At that meeting, we heard 20 countries announcing new donations," the official said. "When I talk about the HIMARS system, this is part of the category of multiple-launch rocket systems, and the allies are also providing these systems."
Germany, the official said, has promised the M270 MLRS system, while the U.K. is already providing that system. Slovakia, Canada and Poland are also providing additional artillery capabilities.
"It really is a global effort and one that we are happy to be playing a leadership role in," the official said.