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US heavy weapons support begins to arrive in Ukraine

A White House official told CNN on April 16 that weapons shipments from the latest security assistance package of US President Joe Biden’s administration to Ukraine “has begun to arrive”.

Mr. Biden this week approved an $800 million weapons, ammunition and security package for Ukraine. For the first time, the US agreed to provide Kiev with high-powered weapons including 11 Mi-17 helicopters, 18 Howitzer 155 mm cannons and an additional 300 Switchblade drones. Some Biden administration officials a few weeks ago viewed these weapons as potentially escalating the situation.

US heavy weapons support begins to arrive in Ukraine - 1

Mi-17 aircraft. (Illustration)

Earlier, a senior defense official told CNN that the first flight carrying the weapons and equipment is expected to arrive in the region in 24 hours and will be picked up by Ukrainians at the border before being brought into the country. .

On the same day, April 16, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov announced that the Russian military shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane carrying military equipment of Western countries.

The statement said “a Ukrainian military transport plane was shot down in the air” in the Odesa area while “is transferring a large batch of weapons supplied by Western countries to Ukraine”. Ukraine has not yet commented on the statement.

The $800 million shipment brings the total amount of military assistance the US has provided to Ukraine to more than $3 billion.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is calling on EU countries to provide more weapons to Ukraine as soon as possible, amid Russia’s special military operation. She added that everything may need to be done to help end the conflict, although hostile acts may be “lasts months or even years in the worst case”.

Russia has warned about the US and Western countries supplying weapons to Ukraine. Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said that the constant arrival of Western weapons in the conflict zone is adding fuel to the fire, and it is necessary to stop the supply of lethal weapons. Moscow also warned that Western weapons supplied to Kiev could fall into the hands of terrorists anywhere in the EU.

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