US announces new $625 million aid package for Ukraine

President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that the U.S. would provide another $625 million in aid to Ukraine, including advanced rocket systems that have helped it gain momentum against Russia as the war continues.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris said in a call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that the package would include four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, known as HIMARS, 200 mine-resistant vehicles, and hundreds of thousands of rounds of artillery and mortar ammunition to keep the military going in their efforts to repel Russia from its borders.

On the same day, Russia’s parliament officially approved the annexation of several sections of Ukraine, an action that Russian President Vladimir Putin announced over the weekend.

The annexation came after Putin held referendums in the areas he wanted to annex and claimed the people supported the action.

First aid since July

The U.S. and Ukraine have denounced the referendums as fraudulent and won’t recognize them.

It will be the first round of U.S. aid for Ukraine since July, and comes at a time when Putin’s recent “partial mobilization” seems to be failing.

Russian troops recently backed off from a strategic stronghold in the Donbas region, abandoning a rail hub at Lymon without much of a fight rather than pressing their advantage further.

Some retired U.S. commanders have said that Putin may not be able to come back from the defeat in Lymon.

Potential for nukes?

The wild card in the war effort is the potential that Putin would use nuclear weapons to gain an advantage in the war, especially tactical nukes that could cause massive destruction in the region without impacting the rest of the world.

Putin has warned the world he could use nuclear weapons and that he’s not bluffing by making threats to do so.

Russia’s rules allow nukes to be used if the existence of the state is threatened, and the annexation of parts of Ukraine could give Putin this justification.

The use of nuclear weapons could draw other countries including the U.S. into the war and cause a much wider conflict, rather than bringing an end to the war.