Pentagon Bolsters Ukraine Aid With $2.3 Billion Pact

( – The Pentagon has given another significant boost to Ukraine with a $2.3 billion weapons contribution. The aid is part of an overall $60 package agreed by Congress in April. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the new provisions will include “air defense interceptors, anti-tank weapons, and other critical munitions from US inventories.”

Austin met with Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov at the Pentagon recently and told him more weapons would come, but Umerov reiterated his country’s plea for a NATO-enforced no-fly zone to prevent Russian forces from wreaking further havoc on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

Analysts say such a move is unlikely, however, as it would bring the US and NATO into direct conflict with the Kremlin. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy nevertheless persists, and in May, he stated that he does not fully understand NATO’s hesitancy. “What’s the problem?” Zelenskyy asked before insisting that shooting down Russian planes is a defensive act and not a NATO attack on Russian soil.

The Ukrainian leader’s calls for a no-fly zone date back to the conflict’s outbreak. In the UK, a Ukrainian journalist pleaded with then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson to urge partners to provide air assistance, but neither Johnson nor senior NATO officials were receptive. NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the military alliance had “no intention” of becoming directly involved in the war.

Fresh calls for assistance came after Russia reportedly destroyed around half of Ukraine’s energy capacity in the first six months of 2024. Ukrainian officials said they were in new talks with NATO in June, but Western caution remains an obstacle.

Russia has focused on striking energy production facilities and distribution networks in recent months, resulting in widespread blackouts across Ukraine. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanishyna said her country is doing all it can to remain functional and called on the West to reconsider its position, or at least to provide greater air defense assistance with as much urgency as possible.

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