The United States will provide $1.8 billion in military aid to Ukraine in a package that will include a Patriot missile battery and precision-guided bombs for fighter jets, U.S. officials told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity as the aid has not yet been officially announced.
The aid comes as reports emerge that President Volodymyr Zelensky is on his way to Washington, D.C. to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden. The visit is Zelensky's first overseas trip since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24.
The package, expected to be announced on Dec. 21, will include around $1 billion in weapons from Pentagon stocks and another $800 million in funding through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, AP reported.
The Patriot missile system would be the most advanced surface-to-air missile system the West has thus far provided to Ukraine.
Earlier on Dec. 16, Russia's Foreign Ministry warned of “unpredictable consequences” if the U.S. sent Patriot missiles to Ukraine, saying the move would be a "provocation."
The U.S. State Department responded by saying Russia is single-handedly responsible for any provocations in Ukraine.
According to the officials, despite the reluctance of U.S. officials to send Patriots to Ukraine, Russia's constant attacks on civilian infrastructure on Ukraine, particularly energy infrastructure that has caused blackouts and loss of heat during winter, as well as Ukraine's urgent calls for more air defense, convinced the U.S. to send the missile systems.