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US to provide $89 million more aid to Ukraine

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A sign stand outside the US State Department in Washington, DC. (Getty Images file photo)

The United States announced it will provide $89 million more in aid to Ukraine to clear mines.

The US State Department announced on Tuesday the funding will help establish 100 teams that can defuse and dispose of unexploded ordnances that cover an area of 160,000 square kilometers (nearly 62,000 square miles), roughly the size of Virginia, Maryland, and Connecticut combined.

“Russia’s unlawful and unprovoked further invasion of Ukraine has littered massive swaths of the country with landmines, unexploded ordnance, and improvised explosive devices,” the State Department said in a statement.

“The grotesque use of improvised explosive devices in the manner that we are seeing in Ukraine by Russian actors was previously only associated with ISIS (Daesh) in Syria,” it added. 

The demining aid package follows an announcement on Monday that the US is providing $1 billion in military equipment to Ukraine, as well as $4.5 billion in economic assistance.

The $1 billion arms package announced by the Pentagon last week will reportedly include ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), and National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) as well as some 50 M113 armored medical vehicles.

The $4.5 billion budgetary grant will provide Kiev with the financial resources needed to cover payments for pensions, social welfare and healthcare costs.

"The United States has now committed approximately 9.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration," Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Dr. Colin Kahl tells reporters at a briefing at the Pentagon.

The $89 million in funding will also support a “large-scale train and equip project” to demine and dispose of explosive ordinances that are in civilian areas.

The State Department said that the remaining mines “continue to kill and maim innocent Ukrainian civilians.”

Since the onset of Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, the United States and its European allies have been sending a flood of advanced weapons into Ukraine to help its military fend off Russian forces.

Ukraine hopes to outmaneuver the Russians by obtaining more advanced weapons. Kiev heavily relies on its Western allies to regain the Donbas, composed of the two breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, where the Russian military has focused its attention on.

Pro-Russia forces had held parts of Luhansk and Donetsk regions even before the Russian onslaught began.

The Ukraine government said it needs the HIMARS systems to better match the range of Russian rocket systems that it said were being extensively used against Ukrainian positions in Donbas.

American officials have said that while HIMARS are vital for Ukrainian forces, but no single weapon system alone can change the war.

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