Washington [US], January 20 (ANI): The US on Thursday (local time) announced a massive new package of USD 2.5 billion in new weaponry, and munitions for Ukraine as the country prepares for a new stage of the war against Russia.

The package does not feature battle tanks requested by Kyiv, but includes 90 Stryker armoured personnel carriers, an additional 59 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, Avenger air defence systems, and large and small munitions, according to a Pentagon statement.

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"The 59 Bradley IFVs included in this package, together with the 50 Bradleys previously committed on January 6, and the 90 Stryker APCs will provide Ukraine with two brigades of armoured capability," it said.

An initial 50 Bradleys were included in a more than USD 3 billion package announced last week.

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The latest package brings total US military assistance to Ukraine since Russia's February 2022 invasion to more than USD 26.7 billion.

The announcement comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expected "strong decisions" on further Western arms supplies at a key meeting of allies at the US Ramstein airbase in Germany on Friday.

"As we prepare for tomorrow's Ramstein, we expect strong decisions. We expect a powerful military support package from the United States," he said.

Ahead of the talks, pressure has been growing on Berlin to approve the delivery of German-made Leopard 2 tanks, which are keenly sought after by officials in Kyiv to press offensives against Russian troops.

Poland and Finland have indicated they would be willing to send the tanks to Ukraine, but need German approval for the move.

Since the United Kingdom announced last week it would send Challenger 2 tanks, Berlin has faced increasing pressure to supply its Leopard 2 tanks or at least clear the way for others, such as Poland, to deliver the German-made equipment from their own stock.

"I am grateful to Charles Michel, President of the European Council, who was in Kyiv today and who very clearly calls on Europe to make a decision on tanks," said Zelenskyy.

"Now we are waiting for a decision from one European capital that will activate the prepared chains of cooperation on tanks," he said, adding, "I believe that the strength of German leadership will remain unchanged."

Meanwhile, Russia warned of an "extremely dangerous" escalation if NATO deploys heavy weapons such as battle tanks and long-range missile systems to Ukraine, reported Al Jazeera.

The Kremlin pressed the West not to give Ukraine heavy weapons capable of striking Russian forces and territory.

"Potentially, this is extremely dangerous. It will mean bringing the conflict to a new level which, of course, will not bode well from the point of view of global and pan-European security," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said to reporters.

On Friday, the United States will gather its allies at its airbase in Ramstein, Germany for a new round of talks on backing Ukraine militarily, reported Al Jazeera.

US defence chief Lloyd Austin will host the coordination meeting. He said "we'll renew our united commitment to support Ukraine's self-defence for the long haul" - but did not mention specific new equipment.

Western partners fear Ukraine could use long-range weapons to hit deep inside Russian territory or Crimea - a peninsula Moscow annexed in 2014 - despite Kyiv promising it would not do so.

Peskov spoke after Moscow's ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, said Russia would retaliate if Ukraine uses Western-supplied weapons to target Russia or the Crimea Peninsula. (ANI)

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