Part of US military support package arrives in Ukraine
The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, announced on Saturday that part of a $200 million “security assistance” package for Ukraine’s military had arrived in the country early that morning.
“The donation, which includes close to 200,000 pounds of lethal security assistance, including ammunition for the front line defenders of Ukraine, demonstrates the United States’ strong commitment to Ukraine’s sovereign right to self-defense,” the U.S. embassy said in a post on Facebook.
The embassy noted that more than $650 million of security assistance had been committed to Ukraine by the United States in the last year, and more than $2.7 billion since 2014.
“The United States will continue providing such assistance to support Ukraine’s Armed Forces in their ongoing effort to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity against Russian aggression. As President Biden told President Putin, should Russia further invade Ukraine, the United States will provide additional defensive material to Ukraine above and beyond that already provided,” the embassy added.
The announcement comes amid Russian military buildup at the border of Ukraine. Russia has amassed more than 127,000 troops in the region, according to a Ukrainian Defense Ministry intelligence assessment that was shared with CNN earlier this week.
Russia has demanded that Ukraine not be able to join NATO, a demand that the alliance has rebuffed. The Kremlin in response has bulked up its military presence in the region, citing unspecified security concerns.
The U.S. and other nations are worried that Russia is readying itself for another invasion into the former Soviet nation, like in 2014, when it invaded Ukraine and annexed the Crimean Peninsula.
President Biden this week made comments that garnered backlash in the U.S. During an almost two-hour press conference, the president appeared to suggest that Russia would be dealt less severe consequences if it engaged in a “minor incursion” in Ukraine.
“It depends on what he does as to what extent we’re going to be able to get total unity on the NATO front,” the president said on Wednesday.
“I think what you’re going to see is that Russia will be held accountable if it invades, and it depends on what it does. It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and not to do,” Biden said.
But the White House and Biden sought to clear up those statements immediately afterward, underscoring that any military movement by Russia into Ukraine would be considered to be an invasion.
“President Biden has been clear with the Russian President: If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that’s a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the United States and our Allies,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement following the press conference.
Biden had previously promised economically devastating sanctions on Russia, should it invade Ukraine. Vice President Harris echoed his sentiments during a testy interview with journalist Savannah Guthrie this week.