Biden to send another $1 billion weapons package to Ukraine
President Biden on Wednesday announced plans to send another $1 billion security assistance package to Ukraine that will include artillery, coastal defense weapons and ammunition to help the country fight off Russian forces.
Biden also said he would send an additional $225 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine to provide drinking water, medical supplies, food and shelter for families inside Ukraine grappling with the impact of the months-long Russian invasion.
The president said in a written statement that he spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday to inform him of the additional assistance, which is a sliver of a massive $40 billion aid package passed by Congress last month. The call Wednesday morning between the two leaders lasted about 40 minutes, according to the White House.
“I reaffirmed my commitment that the United States will stand by Ukraine as it defends its democracy and support its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of unprovoked Russian aggression,” Biden said.
The U.S. has sent billions in weaponry, humanitarian and economic assistance to Ukraine to help forces blunt the Russian attack since the start of the war at the end of February. The administration quickly depleted the first $13.6 billion emergency aid package Congress approved for Ukraine in March.
According to the White House statement, the latest assistance package will include ammunition for artillery and the advanced rocket systems that the U.S. already sent to Ukraine.
Biden said two weeks ago that he would send High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems to help Ukrainian forces strike targets from a longer distance, though administration officials said they received assurances the rocket systems would not be used against targets inside Russia. The systems were included in a $700 million package unveiled earlier this month.
Word of the new assistance came as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were meeting in Brussels with members of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.
Speaking at a news conference, Austin said that the package would include guided Multiple Launch Rocket System munitions, 18 howitzers and tactical vehicles, and 36,000 rounds of 155 mm ammunition.
Ukraine has pleaded for weapons as they face a sustained attack from the Russians in the eastern part of the country.
Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba discussed the assistance on a phone call with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday.
“I thanked for the crucial military assistance that the U.S. has already provided to Ukraine and emphasized that we urgently need more heavy weapons delivered more regularly,” Kuleba tweeted. “We also coordinated next steps to ramp up sanctions pressure on Russia.”
Updated: 2:31 p.m.