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US arms package for Ukraine includes 50 Bradley fighting vehicles – officials

US arms package for Ukraine includes 50 Bradley fighting vehicles – officials

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WASHINGTON, Jan 5 (Reuters) – A new U.S. arms package for Ukraine will include about 50 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, two U.S. officials said on Thursday, with one official saying the package would cost an estimated $2.8 billion.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden said he was considering sending the Bradley, a major part of the US military, to Ukraine to help fight Russia’s invasion. The Russian ambassador accused the US of planning a “dangerous course”.

The latest security package for Ukraine is expected to be unveiled on Friday, officials said.

Of the roughly $2.8 billion package, about $800 million of the funds came from foreign military funding to help Ukraine buy weapons, one official said. The balance of the funds came from the Presidential Drawing Authority (PDA) for Ukraine, which allows the United States to transfer defense items such as Humvees, trucks and ammunition from stockpiles quickly without congressional approval in response to an emergency.

The armored vehicle with a powerful cannon, which is manufactured by BAE Systems Plc (BAES.L)has been used as a staple by the US military to transport troops around battlefields since the mid-1980s.

The army has thousands of Bradleys, which could give the Ukrainians more firepower on the battlefield. However, Biden’s move falls short of sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine, which the Ukrainians requested.

Late last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the US Congress that the tens of billions of dollars in aid he approved to help Ukraine fight the Russian invasion was not charity but an investment in global security.

The United States has sent about $21.3 billion in security aid to Kyiv as Europe’s biggest land conflict since 1945 continues, killing tens of thousands.

The size of Friday’s security aid package was not immediately clear. The White House declined to comment.

Russia’s ambassador to Washington said Bradley’s “decision” showed that Moscow’s American interlocutors “did not even try to heed our many calls to consider the possible consequences of such a dangerous course by Washington.”

Ambassador Anatoly Antonov, in comments posted in Russian and English on the Russian embassy’s Facebook page, said it could no longer be said that arms transfers were of a defensive nature.

The administration’s actions, he said in remarks framed as responses to media questions, “show a lack of any desire for a political settlement.”

The United States is increasingly sending more powerful weapons to Ukraine. As the war progressed and Ukraine’s needs changed, more sophisticated weapon systems, including highly mobile artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) and national advanced surface-to-air missile systems (NASAMS), were sent to Kyiv.

Most recently, the United States pledged to deploy the Patriot missile system to repel Russian missiles and drone attacks. Training and other logistics still need to be worked out.

The Army is working to retire its Bradley fleet and is working with industry to build a replacement as it seeks to modernize.

Reporting by Steve Holland, Mike Stone and Elaine Monaghan; Editing by Leslie Adler and Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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