The U.S. has given more than $2 billion in security assistance tosince the beginning of the Biden administration, with about $1 billion last week alone, after for more from Congress, asking for more defensive assistance as his country struggles to fight off the Russian invasion.
There are some items Ukrainians want that the U.S. cannot provide, either because of a lack of inventory or the risk of provoking a wider war.
Zelenskyy has asked the U.S. to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine to diminish the Russian bombardment continuing to devastate the country. A no-fly zone would require American forces to police the airspace over Ukraine, which would almost certainly lead to a direct conflict between the U.S. and Russia. President Biden has drawn a red line that no U.S. forces will fight in Ukraine.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on his trip to Europe this week said there is no such thing as a "no-fly zone light." If the U.S. sets up a no-fly zone, it means the U.S. is in a conflict with Russia, he said.
MiG-29 fighter jets
Absent a no-fly zone, the Ukrainians are seeking other avenues to help defend their skies, like fighter jets. Ukrainian pilots are trained to fly Soviet-era fighter jets, including the MiG-29 fighter jets. Some former Warsaw Pact countries, like Poland, Slovakia and Bulgaria, have these jets in their inventories. The Polish government announced earlier this month it was willing to transfer its MiG-29s to the U.S. at Ramstein Airbase in Germany, where the U.S. could transfer the jets to Ukraine. But the Biden administration rejected this idea because flying aircraft from a U.S. base in Germany could be seen by Russia as an escalation of the conflict. Members of the U.S. Congress are still pushing for Ukraine to get MiG-29s somehow.
S-300 air defense system
The S-300 surface-to-air missile system is capable of shooting down aircraft and cruise missiles. It's a Russian-made air defense system, so the U.S. does not have any in its inventory. But there are NATO countries, including Slovakia, Greece and Bulgaria, that have these systems.
The minister of defense of Slovakia said this week that Slovakia would be willing to immediately give an S-300 system to the Ukrainians if it receives a backfill system from the U.S. or other NATO allies. The U.S. has said only that it has no announcements to make. Germany and the Netherlands have subsequently said they would lend a Patriot air-defense system to Slovakia to fill the gap left by the S-300.
Military assistance the U.S. is providing
The U.S. has provided over 7,000 Javelin anti-tank systems to Ukraine, according to the White House. The hallmark of the Javelin is its "top attack" capability: the missile flies 150 meters into the air and then strikes the tank from the top, where the armor is the thinnest. The Javelin is a shoulder-mounted weapon forces are able to carry with them. This missile system is considered a "fire and forget" weapon because it uses infrared guidance to find the target as soon as it's fired so that the operator can move immediately after launching or can prepare to fire another one.
Stinger anti-aircraft systems
The Stinger is a portable surface-to-air missile system designed to go after aircraft. The Stinger missile's range can target planes and helicopters flying below 13,000 feet. Like the Javelin, the Stinger is a "fire and forget" system that uses an infrared guide to home in on a target. According to the White House, the U.S. has provided the Ukrainains with around 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems. The Stinger rose to fame in the 1980s, when the CIA provided the Mujahideen in Afghanistan with the weapon, giving them an effective means of targeting Soviet aircraft.
Tactical unmanned aerial systems
In its most recent announcement of aid to Ukraine, the Biden administration listed "100 tactical unmanned aerial systems" or drones. U.S. officials have told CBS News the specific drones are the Switchblade drones from AeroVironment. The drones are considered "kamikaze drones" because they explode after hitting the target. There are two versions, the Switchblade 300 which is designed to go after personnel, and the Switchblade 600 which goes after armored equipment like tanks.
Other U.S. assistance
In addition to the different systems above, the Biden administration in its most recent $800 million package of assistance is providing Ukraine with:
100 grenade launchers
400 machine guns
Over 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition and grenade launcher and mortar rounds
25,000 sets of body armor
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