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Biden admin. bypasses Congress to send new arms to Ukraine, including more HIMARS rocket launchers

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)
An American High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launcher is being prepared to be loaded onto a military transport plane. (File photo)

The administration of the United States President Joe Biden has bypassed Congress to arm Ukraine with the next tranche of advanced American weapons worth $625 million.

Reporting on Monday, Reuters cited sources briefed on the new package as saying that Biden has ordered provision of the military aid for Ukraine, using his "Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA)."

This is not the first time that the US administration chooses to send weapons to Ukraine, using the PDA, which allows the president to authorize transfer of excess weapons from US stocks without congressional approval.

Made by Lockheed Martin Corp the HIMARS launchers' accuracy and longer range have allowed Ukraine to reduce Russia's artillery advantage.

The US has thus far pledged 16 HIMARS launchers to Ukraine using PDA.

The weapons, which are expected to be shipped to Ukraine in the coming days, include four High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers, munitions, mines, and mine-resistant vehicles, the sources noted.

This is the United States' first military aid package since four Ukrainian regions, namely Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine as well as Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south of the ex-Soviet republic, voted overwhelmingly to join Russia.

The votes were held amid an ongoing Russian military operation in Ukraine, which Moscow launched in February to defend Donetsk and Luhansk's pro-Russian population against persecution by Kiev.

The Monday announcement would mark more than $16.8 billion worth of US "security assistance" for Ukraine since the launch of the Russian operation.

Last week, the US unveiled a $1.1-billion arms package for Ukraine, which included 18 HIMARS launcher systems, accompanying munitions, various types of counter-drone systems, and radar systems.

However, last week's weapon package was funded by the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), meaning that the government has to procure the weapons from industry, rather than pulling them from existing US weapons stocks.


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