A military rocket launcher drives on a highway towards Lysychansk, Ukraine, Sunday June 12, 2022.

A military rocket launcher drives on a highway towards Lysychansk, Ukraine, Sunday June 12, 2022. Los Angeles Times via Getty Images / Marcus Yam

US Pledges More Weapons to Ukraine, But Milley Warns ‘The Numbers Clearly Favor The Russians’

More Javelins, Howitzers, long-range rockets are on the way, but will they arrive in time to make a difference?

The U.S. is sending an additional $1 billion in arms to Ukraine, including more howitzers, Javelins, long-range munitions, and Harpoon anti-ship systems. But Russia’s slow advance in the east is raising the larger question of whether those new weapons will be enough—and arrive fast enough—to make a difference. 

The Harpoons will be truck-launched, a variant the U.S. military does not have. The Pentagon worked with industry to create the new coastal-defense version, which will fire missiles provided by European partners from U.S. launchers, said a defense official who briefed reporters at the Pentagon said Wednesday. 

The latest tranche brings total U.S. military aid offered to Ukraine to $5.6 billion since the Feb. 24 invasion and $6.3 billion since the start of the Biden administration. It includes no drones. 

At a press conference in Brussels after the third meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group, a collection of now 50 countries supporting Kyiv with weapons or humanitarian assistance, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Army Gen. Mark Milley faced questions from reporters on whether some of the weapons will arrive too late to prevent Russia from taking control of the Donbass.

The U.S. is still training Ukrainians to use HIMARS; the four donated long-range artillery systems are not expected to be on the battlefield before the end of the month.  

“The Ukrainians are fighting them street by street house by house,” Milley said. “And it's not a done deal. There are no inevitabilities in war. War takes many, many turns. So I wouldn't say it's an inevitability. But I would say that the numbers clearly favor the Russians.” 

But, Milley said, Ukraine has been able to destroy between 20 to 30 percent of Russia’s armored force. 

“That’s significant,” Milley said. “That’s huge.” 

Likewise, the truck-launched Harpoons are not expected to be delivered for months. 

At a Pentagon briefing after the Brussels press conference, a defense official said that timeline includes “execution of contract, to building the systems, to delivering the systems, to…the training and all the pieces that go along with operation,” the official said. “I would anticipate … in the near term, over the next couple of months, to execute the contracting action to provide that capability.” 

“We’ll likely be in this phase for a while as the Russian gains continue to be incremental,” the official said. “And we believe that when these capabilities do arrive, they will make a significant difference. And that they will arrive in time to do so.” 

In the latest tranche, the U.S. will provide: 

  • 18 155mm howitzers;
  • 36,000 rounds of 155mm ammunition;
  • 18 tactical vehicles to tow 155mm Howitzers; 
  • Additional HIMARS ammunition;
  • Four tactical vehicles to recover equipment;
  • Spare parts and other equipment.
  • Two Harpoon coastal defense systems;
  • Thousands of secure radios;
  • Thousands of night vision devices, thermal sights, and other optics;
  • Funding for training, maintenance, sustainment, transportation, and administrative costs.