U.S. weapons package for Ukraine includes 50 Bradley Fighting Vehicles -officials

WASHINGTON, Jan 5 (Reuters) – A new U.S. arms package for Ukraine will include 50 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, two U.S. officials said on Thursday, with one of the officials saying the package would be worth $2.8 billion.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden said that sending the Bradley, which is a US military unit, to Ukraine is being considered to help fight against Russian aggression. The Russian ambassador accused the United States of planning a “dangerous course.”

Ukraine’s latest security package is expected to be unveiled on Friday, officials said.

Of the $2.8 billion package, about $800 million of that money came from Foreign Military Funds to help Ukraine acquire weapons, an official said. The money came from Ukraine’s Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), which allows the United States to transfer defense equipment such as Humvees, vehicles and military equipment from stockpiles quickly without Congressional approval in an emergency response.

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The armored personnel carrier, which is made by BAE Systems Plc ( BAES.L ), has been used as a key component by the U.S. Army to transport troops around battlefields since the mid-1980s.

The military has thousands of Bradleys, which would give the Ukrainians more military power. Biden’s move, however, falls short of sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine, something the Ukrainians have been asking for.

At the end of last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told the US Congress that the billions of dollars he agreed to help Ukraine fight against Russian aggression were not aid, but a sale of international security.

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The United States has sent $21.3 billion in defense aid to Kyiv as Europe’s largest conflict since 1945, killing tens of thousands of people.

The size of Friday’s security package was not immediately known. The White House declined to comment.

The Russian ambassador to Washington said the Bradleys’ “decision” shows that Moscow’s US negotiators “didn’t even try to listen to our many calls to consider the consequences of Washington’s dangerous approach.”

Ambassador Anatoly Antonov, in a statement published in Russian and English on the Russian embassy’s Facebook page, said there would be no more talk of sending weapons for self-defense.

The administration’s actions, he said in a statement posted as answers to media inquiries, “show the lack of any desire to establish a political system.”

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The United States has sent the most powerful weapons to Ukraine. As the war progressed and Ukraine’s needs changed, more sophisticated weapons, including High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS), were sent to Kyiv.

Recently, the United States pledged to send Patriot missiles to counter Russian drone attacks. Some training and transportation still needs to be planned.

The military is working to retire its Bradley fleet, and is working with industry to develop other replacements.

Reports by Steve Holland, Mike Stone and Elaine Monaghan; Edited by Leslie Adler and Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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