US announces $150 million in new military aid for Ukraine as Putin-Biden summit nears

The Pentagon has announced a new $150 million military aid package for Ukraine, potentially raising tensions with Moscow just days before President Joe Biden's summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.

The latest gift from Washington aims to boost the “lethality, command and control, and situational awareness” of Kiev's forces, the Pentagon said in a statement on Friday. In practice, that translates into counter-artillery radars, counter-drone systems, secure communications technology and electronic warfare equipment.

Ukraine will also receive medical evacuation gear, as well as training and equipment to improve the safety and capacity of its air force bases. The new systems are meant to complement a $125 million aid package that was announced in March, which included counter-artillery radars and Mark VI patrol boats the US is phasing out.

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The two aid packages have been authorized by the US Congress as part of the Pentagon funding bill.

Washington has pledged more than $2.5 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since 2014, when the government in Kiev was overthrown by US-backed nationalists. The coup triggered the Crimean peninsula to secede and vote to rejoin Russia, which the US refuses to recognize to this day. The two regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in the Donbass area of east Ukraine also rebelled and declared independence, and defeated two attempts to crush them by force. Kiev claims this amounts to “Russian aggression.”

Tensions have risen in recent months, with fighting in the Donbass region escalating and both Russia and NATO conducting large-scale military exercises in Europe.

Biden is scheduled to meet with Putin on June 16. Ukraine is expected to be on the agenda, along with issues such as arms control, cybersecurity and nuclear cooperation.

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