Zelensky Celebrates More HIMARS, 'Step Towards Defeating the Aggressor'

Volodymyr Zelensky and other top Ukrainian officials are offering thanks to their U.S. counterparts for a newly announced military aid package they say is crucial to fighting Russia.

The Ukrainian president and key ministers on Monday expressed gratitude to the Pentagon for approving another round of assistance that included more ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS). Ukraine has relied heavily on Western military aid since Russia launched its invasion on February 24. The nimble missile systems have been credited with allowing Ukraine to effectively strike against Russia's larger military from far behind enemy lines.

The U.S. Department of Defense on Monday announced a new aid package valued at up to $1 billion to help Ukraine. Authorized by President Joe Biden, the package will draw on U.S. inventories of military supplies to provide additional ammunition, weapons and equipment to Ukraine.

"Every dollar of such aid is a step towards defeating the aggressor," Zelensky said in a tweet, offering his thanks to the American people and Biden. "We'll always remember leadership support of 🇺🇸 at a time when it's most needed!"

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the U.S. for another military aid package. Above, Zelensky participates in the ceremony of presenting orders and state awards to troops and family members of fallen soldiers in Kyiv on August 7, 2022. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP/Getty Images

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov added in a tweet that the additional security assistance "meets our most critical needs on the front lines."

In another tweet, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called the security package "timely and essential" and said it "will help us defeat the ongoing Russian aggression."

"This move proves that Ukraine and the U.S. enjoy a high level of trust and cooperation," he said.

The White House-approved drawdown of military equipment to Ukraine is the 18th since August 2021, Todd Breasseale, acting Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement. He called the most recent drawdown of military stockpiles the largest of its kind and that the U.S. has committed approximately $9.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Biden took office.

In addition to the HIMARS ammunition, the package includes mortar rounds, artillery, armored medical treatment vehicles, Claymore anti-personnel munitions, C-4 explosives and 1,000 Javelin missiles.

Breasseale said the newest military aid package to Ukraine includes ammunition, weapons and equipment that "the Ukrainian people are using so effectively to defend their country."

U.S.-provided HIMARS first arrived in Ukraine in June. Built by U.S. arms maker Lockheed Martin, the missile system mounts to a standard Army truck frame and requires only a driver, gunner and launcher section chief to operate. Each system carries six GPS-guided missiles that can be reloaded in about a minute.

The missiles have a range of about 50 miles, nearly double that of M777 Western-made howitzers that have been used by Ukraine since May.

Ukrainian forces on Monday used HIMARS to damage the Antonovsky bridge, which crosses the Dnieper River in the Kherson administrative district, where Ukraine has launched a counteroffensive to reclaim Russian-occupied territory. Russian authorities confirmed the strike but downplayed its significance.

Russia is reportedly sending more forces to Ukraine's south to bolster its presence. But Ukrainian officials remain optimistic about the counteroffensive's prospects.

Ivan Fedorov, mayor of southern Ukrainian city Melitopol, said in a Telegram post Monday that Ukrainian forces had used HIMARS to kill more than 100 Russian soldiers in a recent rocket attack.

"Tonight is the most effective and shows that the existing enemy air defense units are no longer able to resist HIMARS," he said.

Newsweek has reached out to the Pentagon for comment.