For the first time since the war broke out almost a year ago, the United States will send Ukraine longer-range rockets. The announcement is expected as part of a new military aid and weapons package totaling more than $2 billion.
In addition to support equipment for Patriot air defenses and Javelin anti-tank weapons, the U.S. will send Ukraine Ground Launched Small Diameter Bombs (GLSDB).
The GLSDBs are made jointly by Saab and Boeing, and combine existing U.S. munitions to devastating effect. GLSDBs are essentially GPS-guided artillery and are accurate to within one meter. They can be used in any weather conditions, attack in any direction, and they can destroy armored vehicles or fly into small caves.
GLSDBs have a range of around 94 miles, which would allow Ukraine to strike Russian targets deep behind enemy lines, but they aren’t fighter jets.
Since the start of the war, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been begging for Western fighter jets to help close the skies above Ukraine. There’s a growing push in some NATO countries to send F-16s to Ukraine. Like the Leopard 2 tanks, F-16s are in wide use by NATO allies, making for a potentially large donor pool.
But President Joe Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have flatly refused to send the jets – at least so far.
Almost a year into the war, President Biden has shown a pattern of refusing to send requested weapons, and then eventually sending them anyway. The Washington Post reported some Pentagon officials are even skeptical of Biden’s current refusal to send jets.
For their parts, Biden and Sunak said sending fighter jets would be another red line for Russia, which continues to espouse nuclear threats.
Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was critical of Sunak and other Western leaders for not sending jets. Johnson said the West needs to give Ukraine what it needs as fast as possible “to save time, money and lives.”
Since the start of the war, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with just over $27 billion worth of security assistance.
Reuters contributed to this story.