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By Mike Stone and Steve Holland

U.S. weapons package for Ukraine includes 50 Bradley Fighting Vehicles -officials

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Army Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicle leaves ship during operation Atlantic Resolve rotation in Riga port, Latvia, October 16, 2019. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

A new U.S. weapons package for Ukraine will include about 50 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, two U.S. officials said on Thursday, with one of the officials saying the package will be worth roughly $2.8 billion.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden said that sending the Bradleys, a U.S. Army staple, to Ukraine was being considered to help fight Russia's invasion. Russia's ambassador accused the United States of plotting a "dangerous course."

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Bradley fighting vehicles that will be deployed in Latvia for NATO's Operation Atlantic Resolve wait for an unload in Garkalne, Latvia February 8, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

The latest security package for Ukraine is expected to be unveiled on Friday, the officials said.

Of the roughly $2.8 billion package, around $800 million of the funds came from Foreign Military Financing to help Ukraine procure weapons, one official said. The balance of the funds came from Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) for Ukraine, which allows the United States to transfer defense articles like Humvees, trucks and munitions from stocks quickly without congressional approval in response to an emergency.

The armored vehicle with a powerful gun, which is manufactured by BAE Systems Plc, has been used as a staple by the U.S. Army to carry troops around battlefields since the mid-1980s.

The Army has thousands of Bradleys, which could give the Ukrainians more firepower on the battlefield. Biden's move, however, is short of sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine, which the Ukrainians have been requesting.

Late last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told the U.S. Congress that the tens of billions of dollars of aid it had approved to help Ukraine combat the Russian invasion was not charity, but an investment in global security.

The United States has sent about $21.3 billion in security assistance to Kyiv as Europe's biggest land conflict since 1945 grinds on, killing tens of thousands.

The size of Friday's security aid package was not immediately clear. The White House declined to comment.

Russia's ambassador in Washington said the Bradleys "decision" showed Moscow's U.S. interlocutors "have not even tried to listen to our numerous calls to take into account possible consequences of such a dangerous course by Washington."

Ambassador Anatoly Antonov, in comments published in Russian and English on the Facebook page of the Russian embassy, said there could be no more talk of weapons transfers being of a defensive nature.

The administration's actions, he said in remarks framed as responses to media questions, "indicate a lack of any desire for a political settlement."

The United States has increasingly sent more capable weapons to Ukraine. As the war progressed and Ukraine's needs changed, more complex weapons systems, including High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS), were shipped to Kyiv.

Most recently, the United States pledged to send a Patriot missile system to repel Russian missile and drone attacks. Training and other logistics still need to be worked out.

The Army is working to retire its Bradley fleet, and is working with industry to build a replacement as it seeks to modernize.

(Reporting By Steve Holland, Mike Stone and Elaine Monaghan; Editing by Leslie Adler and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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