- The US said it will provide Ukraine with 18 patrol boats to help protect its riverways.
- The boats are part of the US' latest $450 million security aid package to Ukraine.
- The latest security assistance packages have focused on helping Ukraine boost its coastal and river defenses.
The United States said it would provide 18 patrol boats to help Ukraine protect its riverways as part of the latest $450 million security aid package.
The package includes two 35-foot small-unit riverine craft, six 40-foot maritime combat craft, and ten 34-foot Dauntless Sea Ark patrol boats, the Department of Defense said on Thursday.
"These are largely to protect the riverways and to enable Ukraine to maintain its control of the riverways. They can also be used in close-in coastal areas," a senior defense official said during a briefing at the Pentagon.
In addition to the boats, the package includes artillery such as four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), 36,000 rounds of 105 mm ammunition, 18 tactical vehicles with which to move 155 mm artillery, 1,200 Mk 19 grenade launchers, and 2,000 machine guns.
"Obviously, with each of these packages, we [also] provide a lot of spare parts," the official said. "We want to make sure they can keep the systems up and running."
Earlier this month, the US committed to providing two truck-mounted Harpoon systems to Ukraine to contribute to coastal defense. Other allied nations will send the Harpoon missiles themselves.
Ukraine recently claimed to have sunk a Russian tugboat in the Black Sea using two Harpoon missiles.
"This will be helpful in enabling the Ukrainians to defend Odesa and other positions along the Black Sea coast," the defense official said.
As Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, the conflict in the Black Sea has intensified. Russia has imposed a blockade on Ukrainian ports, leading to the disruption of global wheat exports and exacerbating a global food crisis.
Last week, Ukraine launched missile strikes against three Russian gas rigs in the Black Sea.
"On those towers, Russia had organized small garrisons and stored equipment for air defense, radar warfare, and reconnaissance," Sergiy Bratchuk of Odesa's regional military administration told an online briefing, according to Deutsche Welle.