What are the longterm implications of the U.S. sending military supplies to Ukraine?
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
The Pentagon is ramping up its support of Ukraine in the war against Russia.
A MARTINEZ, HOST:
Yeah. The Defense Department is sending another $3 billion to Ukraine. Here's defense official calling call describing how that money will be used in part.
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COLIN KAHL: This package is about building enduring strength for Ukraine as it continues to defend its sovereignty in the face of Russian aggression.
MARTINEZ: That brings total U.S. aid alone to more than 13 billion bucks.
MARTIN: NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman joins us this morning. Hey, Tom.
TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Hey, Rachel.
MARTIN: So what's in this latest tranche of aid?
BOWMAN: Well, another massive package. It includes six advanced surface-to-air missile systems designed to shoot down Russian missiles and aircraft - and, Rachel, these sophisticated systems are actually used at the White House to protect it from attack, so top of the line - also nearly a quarter-million artillery rounds, tens of thousands of mortar rounds, along with drones. Now, some of this U.S. aid announced yesterday is to help Ukraine months, maybe years into the future - enduring, as Colin Kahl said. Now, another package announced just last week included things for upcoming campaigns, more long-range rocket artillery ammunition, shoulder-fired anti-tank missile, surveillance drones and, interestingly, nearly a hundred armored troop-carrying vehicles, the kind that U.S. forces used in Iraq and Afghanistan.
MARTIN: What does that indicate? I mean, what can we observe about the evolution of the war based on the equipment that the U.S. is sending?
BOWMAN: Well, especially the armored vehicles for troops leads analysts to believe that they were meant for a expected counteroffensive by Ukraine against Russian forces. Again, you also have these anti-armor missiles, surveillance drones, pick out Russian targets. And some say this offensive could take place in southern Ukraine, near the city of Kherson - the first city, by the way, to fall to the Russians. Already, Ukraine has destroyed bridges east of the city that were key for Russia to resupply its troops. Russia has been forced to use temporary pontoon bridges, which of course are - also could be targeted as well.
And, Rachel, seizing Kherson would be a big win for Ukraine both symbolically and operationally because it could further help Ukrainians hold onto a part of its vital Black Sea coast, and also further threaten Russian forces in Crimea, which was seized by Russia in 2014. Already in Crimea, of course, we've seen some sabotage of Russian positions by Ukrainian partisans.
MARTIN: So I mean, you nodded at the top to the steadfast commitment of the U.S. to funding the Ukrainians against the Russians. And we heard Colin Kahl say that as well. But, I mean, aren't there some longer-term implications of the U.S. sending so many military supplies to Ukraine? The U.S. can only manufacture a few hundred Javelin missiles a year, right? I mean, how long will it take to replace that stockpile?
BOWMAN: Well, it is something of a concern. Some analysts say the stockpile of those Javelin anti-tank missiles is down by about a third. They've sent in more money in the budget and more - you know, to help replenish these stocks. It's not a big concern right now, Rachel. But some say, listen; if this war lasts well into next year, it could be a serious problem.
MARTIN: NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman. Tom, thanks. We appreciate your reporting on this.
BOWMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.