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WASHINGTON: The United States on Tuesday announced a new $1.2 billion security assistance package for Ukraine to boost the country’s air defenses and provide it with additional artillery ammunition.

The package underscores the continued US commitment to Ukraine “by committing critical near-term capabilities, such as air defense systems and munitions, while also building the capacity of Ukraine’s armed forces to defend its territory and deter Russian aggression over the long term,” the Defense Department said in a statement.

The assistance comes in the form of Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funds, which pay for procurement of equipment from the defense industry or partners rather than providing equipment from existing US stocks.

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This avoids depleting US inventories, but means the assistance will take longer to reach the battlefield.

The package features unspecified air defense systems and munitions as well as equipment to integrate Western systems with Ukraine’s existing gear, which is mainly of Soviet vintage.

It also includes ammunition for counter drone systems, 155 mm artillery rounds, and commercial satellite imagery services.

The United States has spearheaded the push for international support for Ukraine, quickly forging an international coalition to back Kyiv after Russia invaded in February 2022 and coordinating aid from dozens of countries.

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Kyiv has pushed for some items that its international supporters have been reluctant to provide, including Patriot air defense systems and advanced heavy tanks – which were eventually promised – and others such as Western fighter aircraft, which have not been pledged so far.

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