Armored vehicle
Armored vehicleiStock

The US is finalizing a massive package of military aid for Ukraine that US officials say is likely to total as much as $2.6 billion, The Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

According to the officials, the package is expected to include for the first time nearly 100 Stryker combat vehicles and at least 50 Bradley armored vehicles to allow Ukrainian forces to move more quickly and securely on the front lines in the war with Russia, but not the tanks that Ukraine has sought.

The officials said the numbers could change as the Biden administration goes through final deliberations on the package. An announcement is expected this week when defense leaders from the US, Europe and other regions gather in Germany to discuss military support for Ukraine.

The aid is also expected to include thousands of rounds of ammunition, including rockets for air defense systems, said the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The decision to send the Strykers, which could be delivered within weeks, comes on the heels of announcements by the British to send Ukraine battle tanks, which have long been sought by Ukrainian leaders. The Strykers and Bradleys are armored personnel carriers.

The Stryker can transport a full squad of nine infantry troops and a crew of two. It is equipped with a 30 mm gun, a machine gun and/or a grenade launcher, and can travel up to 60 miles per hour (nearly 100 kilometers per hour). It runs on eight wheels, which makes it more nimble, speedy and fuel efficient than the Bradley.

The first shipment of 50 Bradleys was announced two weeks ago. Known as a "tank-killer" because of the anti-tank missile it can fire, the Bradley runs on tracks, making it more useful in muddy terrain than the Stryker.

Ukraine has sought to be supplied with heavier tanks, including the US Abrams and the German Leopard 2 tanks, but Western leaders have been treading carefully. The United Kingdom announced last week that it will send Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, but the US and Germany have held off, noted AP.

News of the US aid comes one day after The New York Times reported that the Pentagon is tapping into a vast but little-known stockpile of American ammunition in Israel to help meet Ukraine’s dire need for artillery shells in the war with Russia.

The United States has so far sent or pledged to send Ukraine just over one million 155-millimeter shells. A sizable portion of that — though less than half — has come from the stockpiles in Israel and South Korea, a senior US official told the newspaper.

The Israeli officials said that Israel had not changed its policy of not providing Ukraine with lethal weapons and rather was acceding to an American decision to use its own ammunition as it saw fit.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was critical of the previous Israeli government due to its refusal to send advanced weapons to his country, and denounced the lack of aid from Israel during the war with Russia, saying his country got “nothing” from Israel.

He later reversed course and said he sees a "positive trend" in Kyiv's relations with Israel after the two countries shared intelligence about Russia's purported use of hundreds of Iranian drones in the war in Ukraine.