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US to provide Ukraine $1.2 billion in long-term security aid

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. will provide $1.2 billion more in long-term military aid to Ukraine to further bolster its air defenses as Russia continues to pound Ukraine with drones, rockets and surface-to-air missiles, U.S. officials said Monday.

The aid package is expected to be announced on Tuesday and the money will be provided under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. Unlike the U.S. equipment, weapons and ammunition that are more frequently sent to Ukraine from Pentagon stocks — so they can be delivered quickly — this money is to be spent over the coming months or even years to ensure Ukraine’s future security needs.

The assistance initiative will fund HAWK air-defense systems, air-defense munitions and drones for air defense. It will also buy artillery, rockets, satellite imagery assistance, and funding for ongoing maintenance and spare parts for a variety of systems, according to the officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the aid package has not yet been formally announced.

Including this package, the U.S. has provided Ukraine nearly $37 billion in military aid since Russia invaded in February 2022.

The decision comes as Ukraine prepares to launch a spring offensive against Russian forces, with air defense a persistent issue.

Ukraine’s air defenses shot down 35 Iranian-made drones over Kyiv in Russia’s latest nighttime assault, officials said Monday. Wreckage from a drone struck a two-story apartment building in Kyiv’s western Svyatoshynskyi district, while other debris struck a car parked nearby, setting it on fire, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in a Telegram post.

Russian shelling of 127 targets across northern, southern and eastern parts of Ukraine killed three civilians, the Ukrainian defense ministry said.

Facing economic sanctions and limits on its supply chains due to its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has routinely turned to Iran’s Shahed drones to bolster its firepower. And U.S. aid packages — including more immediate military weapons and support — have included systems to shoot down and otherwise defeat the drones.

___ Associated Press writer Tara Copp contributed to this report.

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