The new aid package, which brings the total defense assistance pledged by the United States since the start of the war to a whopping $16.8 billion, was announced in relation with Tuesday's phone call between President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Vince President Kamala Harris was also in on the call.
Biden and Harris vowed the US "will never recognize Russia’s purported annexation of Ukrainian territory," according to a readout. "President Biden pledged to continue supporting Ukraine as it defends itself from Russian aggression for as long as it takes, including the provision today of a new $625 million security assistance package that includes additional weapons and equipment, including [High Mobility Rocket Artillery Systems], artillery systems and ammunition, and armored vehicles," the readout said.
A separate statement by Secretary Blinken indicated the new weapons package will be the "second under presidential drawdown authority, and includes four High Mobility Rocket Artillery Systems, 16 155 mm howitzers, 16 105 mm howitzers, 75,000 155mm artillery rounds, 500 precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds and 1,000 155mm rounds of Remote Anti-Armor Mine Systems, among other equipment."
Artillery munitions resupplies are said be among the most urgent requirements as Ukraine continues its so far successful counteroffensives in the east and south. Russia's Putin has called up some 300,000 reservists in response.
Echoing the contents of the Biden-Zelensky call, Blinken stressed that the Russian annexation move will only strengthen Washington's resolve in supporting Ukraine:
"Recent developments from Russia’s sham referenda and attempted annexation to new revelations of brutality against civilians in Ukrainian territory formerly controlled by Russia only strengthens our resolve. United with our Allies and partners from 50 nations, we are delivering the arms and equipment that Ukraine’s forces are utilizing so effectively today in a successful counter-offensive to take back their lands seized illegally by Russia."
As for the ongoing counteroffensive, there are now signs that Russian frontlines in the south are being rapidly penetrated by the Ukrainian advance to recapture occupied territory.
According to a Tuesday report in The Moscow Times, "Russia's forces occupying Ukraine's southern Black Sea region of Kherson have suffered serious territorial losses to Kyiv's troops over recent days, maps published by Moscow's Defense Ministry showed Tuesday."
"The maps included in Tuesday's daily military briefing showed that Russian forces are no longer in control of the village of Dudchany on the west bank of the river Dnipro, where Ukraine's forces have been pushing to reclaim territory captured at the start of Moscow's offensive," the report said.
The HIMARS in particular have been touted as a gamechanger on the battlefield, as it gives Ukraine's army the ability to reach deep into Russian supply lines and key forward operating bases as well.