Biden announces $800M in aid for Ukraine hours after Zelenskyy’s plea to Congress
President Joe Biden delivered his own address Wednesday following Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s plea for help to Congress earlier in the day.
Biden, who has resisted Zelenskyy's requests to send warplanes to Ukraine fearing escalating the war with Russia, announced an additional $800 million in security assistance to Ukraine.
The additional $800 million brings the total announced in the last week alone to $1 billion, and a total of $2 billion since Biden took office more than a year ago.
Biden said Wednesday the aid includes the direct transfers of equipment from the Department of Defense to the Ukrainian military to help the continued fight against the Russian invasion.
Biden said the new assistance includes 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, 100 grenade launchers, 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition and grenade launchers and mortar rounds and an unspecified number of drones.
"We’re going to give Ukraine the arms to fight and defend themselves through all the difficult days ahead," Biden said.
Already the Biden administration has sent Ukraine more than 600 Stinger missiles, 2,600 Javelin anti-armor systems, unmanned aerial system tracking radars; grenade launchers, 200 shotguns, 200 machine guns and nearly 40 million rounds of small arms ammunition, along with helicopters, patrol boats, satellite imagery and body armor, helmets, and other tactical gear, a White House official said earlier.
Congress has already approved $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine, and the newly announced security aid will come from that allotment, which is part of a broader bill that Biden signed into law Tuesday.
US President Joe Biden speaks about funds to aid Ukraine, in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House, in Washington, DC, on March 16, 2022. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM
Biden also doubled down on the U.S.‘s sanctions on Russia, which include financial attacks. The sanctions are a substitute for direct military action against Russia by the U.S. and its allies. Biden has repeatedly said there will be no U.S. troops on the ground, even as weapons and materiel are provided to Ukraine.
"We’re crippling Putin’s economy with punishing sanctions that’s only going to grow more painful over time with the entire NATO and EU behind us, and many other countries," Biden said.
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Nearing the three-week mark in an ever-escalating war, Zelenskyy has been imploring allied leaders to stop the Russian airstrikes.
Zelenskyy addressed the U.S. Congress earlier Wednesday, asking for sanctions against Russian lawmakers, imports to be blocked and a no-fly zone over his country.
"We need you right now," Zelenskyy said, adding, "I call on you to do more." In urging a steeper economic hit to the Russians, he said: "Peace is more important than income."
Lawmakers gave him a standing ovation, before and after his short remarks, which Zelenskyy began in Ukrainian through an interpreter but then switched to English in a heartfelt appeal to help end the bloodshed.
Biden thanked Zelenskyy for speaking with Congress.
"(Zelensky) speaks for people who have shown remarkable courage and strength in the face of brutal aggression," Biden said. "Courage and strength that’s inspired not only Ukrainians but the entire world."
"The world is united in our support for Ukraine and our determination to make Putin pay a very heavy price," Biden said.
This story was reported from Detroit. The Associated Press contributed.