Australia has Joined the UK-led “Drone Coalition” to Help Ukraine Fight Russia, and Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles has Indicated that Further Support Will be Revealed Soon, as Uncertainty Grows Over America’s Commitment to the War

Australia has Joined the UK-led “Drone Coalition” to Help Ukraine Fight Russia, and Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles has Indicated that Further Support Will be Revealed Soon, as Uncertainty Grows Over America’s Commitment to the War

Mr Marles said Australia would participate in the UK and Latvia’s plan to provide thousands of drones to Ukraine. The plan is to run a competition among Western nations to harness technology and drive down the cost of making drones.

“This is a really important opportunity for us to continue making our contribution to the effort to have Ukraine stay the course and be able to resolve this conflict on its terms,” Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles declared.

US sends ‘desperate’ Ukraine $454m in weapons as further aid stalls

Washington | The Biden administration will send an additional $US300 million ($454 million) in security assistance to Ukraine, an “extraordinary measure” being taken as the US president’s request for billions of dollars more remains stalled in Congress.

The emergency package, announced by the White House on Tuesday (Wednesday AEDT), would be funded by “unanticipated cost savings” from contracts the Pentagon had brokered to replace weapons previously provided to Ukraine, national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.

Ukrainian soldiers fire mortars on the front line near Bakhmut

The aid would include artillery shells, anti-armor weapons, Stinger anti-aircraft weapons and other arms, as well as spare parts, US officials said.

The munitions included medium-range cluster rounds from the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), which Ukrainian forces have used repeatedly to target Russian headquarters units and troop formations, a senior official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The United States has previously sent the rounds, which have a range of about 160 kilometres.

US officials declined to say whether they were also sending long-range ATACMS munitions, which Ukrainian officials have sought for months.

“It is assistance that Ukraine desperately needs to hold the line against Russian attacks and to push back against the continued Russian onslaught in the east and in other parts of Ukraine,” Mr Sullivan said.

Ukraine’s momentum in the war, now in its third year, has begun to flag as its front-line units face dwindling weapons supplies and Russian forces make a renewed push to break through defensive positions.

In his State of the Union address last week, President Joe Biden implored legislators to pass legislation that would unlock an additional $US60 billion to assist the government in Kyiv.

But the bill, which includes money meant to help Israel and counter China, has stalled amid a bitter debate in the Republican-led House.

The $US95 billion measure passed the Senate on a bipartisan basis in February, but Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson has refused to hold a vote on it.

His tenuous grasp on the speakership has come under threat from members of his party who have sought to condition any additional aid for Ukraine on the adoption of new immigration measures that Democrats say are too severe.

Former president Donald Trump has also encouraged House Republicans not to pass the bill, despite the significant bipartisan support it has in the Senate.

The Biden administration has approved the transfer of more than $US44 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his forces to invade in February 2022, but money approved by Congress ran dry in January, officials had said.

Ukrainian military personnel interviewed by The Washington Post this year have said they must ration the shells they have to launch at Russian adversaries as their stocks run low.

After a bitter fight last month, Ukrainian forces were forced to withdraw from the strategically significant eastern city of Avdiivka, with some caught behind enemy lines.

Leaders in Kyiv, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, have said that vital air-defence weapons also are in increasingly short supply, leaving the country’s civilian population more vulnerable to incoming missile and drone attacks.

CIA director William Burns, appearing on Capitol Hill this week alongside other senior US intelligence officials, told legislators that with undisrupted infusions of American military aid, “Ukraine can hold its own on the front line” into next year and continue to attack Russian targets both beyond its borders and in the Black Sea.

Without US weapons, he warned, the Ukrainians stand to lose “significant ground”.

“The Ukrainians are not running out of courage and tenacity,” Mr Burns said. “They’re running out of ammunition. And we’re running out of time to help them.”