(Bloomberg) -- The Biden administration announced $400 million in new security assistance for Ukraine, including refurbished Soviet-era T-72 tanks, HAWK air defense missiles and more of the “Phoenix Ghost” drones that have been effective against Russian forces in the east.
The US and the Netherlands will split the cost of refurbishing 90 T-72 tanks, a job that will be done in the Czech Republic, Defense Department deputy spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told reporters. She said some tanks will arrive before the end of the year.
While Ukraine has received tanks from Poland and the Czech Republic before, Friday’s announcement marks the first time the US has paid for them since the start of Russia’s invasion in February. That suggests the Biden administration is again easing limits it’s put on the supply of more powerful weapons, something President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has repeatedly pressed for.
“We’re focused on what is it that Ukraine actually needs and can effectively use,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a briefing in Germany on Friday. “In some instances, we’re providing technology they haven’t used before.”
The aid falls under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, meaning the weapons will be made by defense contractors rather than coming from current US stocks. Friday’s announcement brings the total amount of US security assistance to Ukraine since the start of the invasion to more than $18 billion.
Ukraine will get 1,100 of the Phoneix Ghost drones and 40 armored river boats. It will also get more of the MIM-23 HAWK missile, a surface-to-air system that Ukraine has been seeking as it has a longer range than the US provided Stingers, Singh said.
Zelenskiy has been clamoring for more heavy weapons and air-defense systems for Ukrainian forces. In announcing the T-72 deal Thursday, Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said allies “continue to join hands to support Ukrainian forces in the fight against the Russian war of aggression.”
(Updates with Blinken comment in 4th paragraph.)
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.