U.S. military assistance to Ukraine is up to $19.4 billion since Russia “launched its premeditated, unprovoked, and brutal war against Ukraine on Feb. 24,” according to a State Department announcement dated Dec. 9.

This is more than double the United States’ most expensive year in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, major weapons on Kyiv’s wish list are still missing.

Official data made public said total U.S. security assistance to Ukraine since January 2021, when the Kremlin began building up forces along Ukraine’s borders and Washington countered with increased light weapons shipments to Kyiv, was “approximately” $20 billion.

The costliest year for American taxpayers during Washington’s involvement in Afghanistan was 2011, when U.S. military aid hit $9 billion, according to a Sept. 22 analysis by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

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The first American weapons to be widely used on the battlefield were hand-held anti-tank missiles and rockets, led by 8,500 Javelin anti-armor systems, 46,000 other anti-armor systems and munitions, and over 700 Switchblade kamikaze drones. Other NATO nations have sent Ukraine hand-held anti-tank weapons as well. Dense quantities of guided missiles and anti-tank rockets in the hands of Ukrainian infantry and even civilian volunteers repeatedly ambushed Russian armored columns in the early weeks of the war, and by March forced the Kremlin to abandon attempts to capture the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

NATO Summit: What's the Upshot?
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NATO Summit: What's the Upshot?

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After 10 months of fighting, the most effective long-term U.S. contribution to Ukraine’s fighting capacity thus far has been 142 155mm M777 howitzers, along with small numbers of the same gun also sent by Great Britain, Canada and Australia. Copious volumes of 155mm caliber shells have been equally critical. According to the State Department statement, since the war began the U.S. has delivered Ukraine up to 1,004,000 155mm artillery rounds, 4,200 precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds, and 9,000 155mm rounds of Remote Anti-Armor Mine (RAAM), 36 105mm Howitzers and 180,000 105mm artillery rounds.

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Major NATO nations including Germany, the U.K., Italy, France and the Czech Republic have also transferred 155mm artillery pieces to Ukraine, but substantial deliveries were led by M777 howitzers delivered by U.S. Air Force cargo planes in late April. Massed fires by recently arrived M777 howitzers were a key factor in Ukraine’s success in halting Russian armor attacks in May and June in the Severodonetsk sector. 

Over the summer and fall Ukraine’s U.S.-supplied precision-guided rockets, fired by the HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) and M270 systems, repeatedly struck Russian ammunition dumps, supply nodes and headquarters, leading to the collapse of Russian defenses in the Kharkiv and Kherson sectors. Germany and the U.K. have contributed a small number of tracked M270 systems. The truck-mounted HIMARS, delivered only from U.S. arsenals, is widely regarded as the single most effective long-range strike system in the Ukrainian army arsenal.

High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM) mounted on planes and meant to take out enemy radars have also been sent by the U.S.

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Air defense systems sent to Ukraine by the U.S. include more than 1,600 Stinger hand-held anti-aircraft missiles, 8 cutting-edge National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) anti-aircraft missile systems, missiles for the Cold War-era HAWK air defense systems, and four Cold War-era Avenger air defense systems. Norway, Germany and Spain have also contributed air defense systems of varying quality.

The Ukrainian military has praised the NASAMS and Stingers, particularly for helping deny wide portions of Ukrainian air space to Russian aircraft. Ukraine is still vulnerable to cruise and ballistic missiles and is unable to prevent further bombardment of civilian infrastructure, Ukrainian officials have said.

According to the State Department paper, the U.S. has sent Ukraine almost 900 armored personnel carriers in 2022, some dating back to the Vietnam War era and others designed for non-battle purposes, like transporting military police. Major front-line conventional war combat systems long asked for by Ukraine – such as America’s frontline Abrams tank, Bradley Infantry Fighting vehicle, Gray Eagle and Reaper strike drones, the Paladin howitzer, and F-15 and F-16 fighter jets – have not been transferred.

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Major conventional war heavy weapons systems sent by the U.S. to Ukraine in 2022 were limited to Soviet-era Mi-17 helicopters and 45 Soviet-era T-72B tanks, the report said.

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