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Biden to announce $800m in military assistance for Ukraine, official says

US President Joe Biden is expected to announce an additional $800 million in new military assistance to Ukraine on Wednesday, says a White House official.

The announcement, set to come soon after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the US Congress, brings “the total (aid) announced in the last week alone to $1 billion,” according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity late Tuesday.

On Saturday, Biden allowed extra $200 million in military equipment to Ukraine which came on top of $350 million Washington authorized, also for military equipment, on February 26.

It is not clear what the military package will include, but it will potentially include the armed drones that Zelensky has called for.

The US has already provided Ukraine with over 600 Stinger missiles and nearly 2,600 Javelin anti-armor systems, as well as an assortment of radar systems, helicopters, grenade launchers, guns and ammunition, and other equipment, according to the official.

“The US remains by far the largest single donor of security assistance to Ukraine,” the official said.

Zelensky has asked the US to establish “no-fly zones” to protect Ukraine from Russian airstrikes and requested fighter jets. In his virtual address to Congress early Wednesday, he is set to renew his appeals for more aid.

Biden has ruled out the no-fly zone, arguing that it would trigger a catastrophic war with Russia.

The $800 million in military package comes from the massive spending bill Biden signed into law on Tuesday, which includes $13.6 billion total in new aid to Ukraine.

“I’ll have much more to say about this tomorrow [Wednesday] about exactly what we’re doing in Ukraine,” Biden said in remarks at the bill signing.

The US president is slated to travel to a NATO summit meeting in Brussels on March 24 and also attend the European Union’s summit meeting the same day for discussions on additional sanctions on Russia, White House and European officials said on Tuesday.

Biden would use the visit to “reaffirm our ironclad commitment to our NATO allies”, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “We’ve been incredibly aligned to date. That doesn’t happen by accident.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a “special military operation” in Ukraine’s Donbas region on February 24 to “defend people” subjected to “genocide” there against the government forces, stressing that Moscow has “no plans to occupy Ukrainian territory.”

 

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