Biden Announces Third $800M Weapons Package To Ukraine To Help Donbas Fight
The White House will ask Congress for more money next week to keep weapons flowing.
The White House is sending another $800 million in military assistance to Ukraine to equip forces to counter the new Russian offensive in the Donbas, President Joe Biden announced Thursday.
This latest batch of weapons—the third $800 million package that the White House has sent to Ukraine since March 16—has nearly emptied the fund Congress authorized on March 11 to support Ukraine. Biden said he will send a supplemental budget request to Capitol Hill next week so the United States can continue providing weapons as the war stretches into its second month.
“The battle of Kyiv was a historic victory for Ukrainians. It was a victory for freedom, won by the Ukrainian people with unprecedented assistance by the United States and our allies and our partners,” Biden said in an address from the White House. “Now, we have to accelerate that assistance package to help prepare Ukraine for Russia’s offensive that’s going to be more limited in terms of geography, but not in terms of brutality.”
Biden announced the new aid after meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shymhal in Washington, where he “conveyed the continued commitment of the United States to support the people of Ukraine and to impose costs on Russia,” according to a White House statement.
Russian forces have withdrawn from Kyiv, but are continuing brutal fighting in the south and east of the country. Biden said there is no evidence that the port city of Maripol has completely fallen into Russian control, though reports suggest it could happen soon. Russian forces also launched an offensive on Tuesday in the Donbas, a pair of eastern provinces where Russian leader Vladimir Putin has falsely claimed that Ukrainian officials are targeting the Russian-speaking population to justify the war.
The latest package includes 72 howitzers and 144,000 artillery rounds for them, which will equip five battalions when combined with previous aid, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement. This batch of weapons also includes 72 tactical vehicles to tow the howitzers, 121 Phoenix Ghost tactical drones—a new weapon rapidly developed by the Air Force for the Ukrainians, Kirby said—plus other equipment and spare parts.
The United States previously sent Ukraine anti-aircraft systems, anti-tank weapons, and armored personnel carriers in two $800 million packages that were announced April 13 and March 16, which were part of the $13.6 billion military and humanitarian aid package Congress approved last month.
It’s not clear how much money the supplemental request will include. The first supplemental request asked for $10 billion for Ukraine, which Congress exceeded. Biden said the Pentagon is putting together a number now for “what they think we need.” Still, there’s been overwhelming bipartisan support on Capitol Hill to do more to help Ukraine, so lawmakers are likely to support a supplemental budget request to keep the flow of weapons quickly moving.
Biden announced other non-military aid to Ukraine, including $500 million to help the Ukrainian economy recover and a new immigration program to allow Ukrainian refugees to come to the United States via Europe.
The president also will impose more consequences on Russia, including banning any Russian-affiliated ships from docking in American ports.
“Putin has failed to achieve his grand ambitions on the battlefield,” Biden said. “After weeks of shelling Kyiv, Kyiv still stands.”