President Joe Biden has announced an additional $800 million in security assistance to Ukraine.
This is in addition to $200 million authorized on Saturday to keep a steady flow of weapons and ammunition moving to Ukraine, bringing the total U.S. security assistance committed to Ukraine to $1 billion within a week.
This assistance will take the form of direct transfers of equipment from the U.S. Department of Defense to the Ukrainian military to help them defend their country against Russian invasion, Biden said Wednesday.
This new package includes 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems that can shoot down Russian planes. It also includes U.S.-produced short-range air defense systems the Ukrainians have been effectively using.
Biden said that at the request of President Zelenskyy, Washington is helping Ukraine acquire additional longer-range anti-aircraft systems and the munitions for those systems.
Other arms and ammunitions in the new package include 2,000 Javelin, 1,000 light anti-armor weapons, and 6,000 AT-4 anti-armor systems; 100 Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems; 100 grenade launchers, 5,000 rifles, 1,000 pistols, 400 machine guns, and 400 shotguns; 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition and grenade launcher and mortar rounds.
Biden promised that “more will be coming as we source additional stocks of equipment.”
He vowed that together with its Allies and partners, the United States will keep up the pressure on Putin’s crumbling economy, isolating him on the global stage. “That’s our goal: make Putin pay the price, weaken his position while strengthening the hand of the Ukrainians on the battlefield and at the negotiating table”.
Speaking with reporters at another event Wednesday, Biden labeled Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal”.
The Kremlin said Biden’s comments are “unacceptable and unforgivable rhetoric.” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki later said the president had been speaking from his heart.
“He was speaking from his heart and speaking from what he’s seen on television, which is barbaric actions by a brutal dictator, through his invasion of a foreign country,” she said at a news conference.
At least 30 countries have provided security assistance to Ukraine to help its military thwart Russian forces that have been attacking their land for the last three weeks.
Casualties have been reported in a Russian attack on a theatre sheltering more than 1000 civilians in the besieged southern city of Mariupol.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky received a standing ovation as he addressed the parliaments of Germany and the United States. In his speech, Zelensky appealed to its leaders to take more action to tackle Russia’s aggression.
Ceasefire talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations are making progress, reports say.
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