US expected to send $450 million in security aid to Ukraine

Officials say move would include rocket systems to counter Russian firepower

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The US is expected to provide an additional $450 million in security assistance to Ukraine, including more long-range rocket systems, two officials told Reuters on Thursday.

Moscow’s forces are advancing in Ukraine’s east in a bid to capture the industrial heartland known as the Donbas, where Ukraine fears some of its troops could be encircled in a Russian pincer move.

One of the US officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said an announcement was expected later on Thursday, with the latest package expected to include four additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (Himars).

The official said details on the package could change at the last minute.

Earlier, Ukraine said it had received the first tranche of Himars, a powerful long-range weapon system that Kyiv hopes can help turn the tide in the months-long battle.

Ukraine says it needs the Himars to better match the range of Russian rocket systems that it says are being used extensively to pummel Ukrainian positions in Donbas.

Washington has said it has received assurances from Kyiv that those longer-range weapons would not be used to attack Russian territory, fearing an escalation of the conflict.

Moscow has warned it will strike targets in Ukraine, which they "have not yet been hitting", if the West supplies longer-range missiles to Kyiv for use in high-precision mobile rocket systems.

Updated: June 23, 2022, 5:50 PM