President Joe Biden on Wednesday detailed how the United States will spend $800 million in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine approved this week, and promised to “do more in the days and weeks ahead” to help the war-torn nation.
The funds will go toward drones, 800 antiaircraft systems, 9,000 antiarmor systems, 7,000 small-arm machine guns, as well as grenade launchers and shotguns.
Funds also will be used to help care for the more than 3 million Ukrainians displaced by the war, while bolstering the country’s defenses as Russian forces try to encircle the capital city Kyiv.
“This new package on its own is going to provide unprecedented assistance to Ukraine,” Biden said at the White House, hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to the Congress for more help in fighting back the invasion.
“May God protect the Ukrainians who are out there defending their country,” the president said.
U.S. President Joe Biden, speaks as Antony Blinken, U.S. secretary of state, left, listens in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 16, 2022.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Biden condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin for inflicting “appalling devastation” on Ukraine, and cited reports of Russia’s military forces holding hundreds of doctors and patients hostage at a hospital in Mariupol.
“These atrocities are an outrage to the world,” the president said.
“This could be a long and difficult battle,” Biden warned, but he vowed that “the American people will be steadfast in our support in the people of Ukraine, in the face of Putin’s immoral, unethical attacks on civilian populations. We are united in our abhorrence of Putin’s depraved onslaught.”
Biden on Tuesday signed a $1.5 trillion government spending package that included money for both humanitarian and military assistance for the nation that has spent nearly three weeks fighting off a Russian invasion.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the $800 million set aside for Ukraine brings to more than $2 billion the total U.S. security assistance committed to the country since the Biden administration began in January 2021.
Biden has helped to lead international efforts to hamper Russia’s economy in response to the assault on Ukraine. He has said he opposes sending troops or offensive weapons, because it could risk widening the war in Europe.
During his remarks Wednesday, Biden praised Zelenskyy, saying, “He speaks for a people that have shown remarkable courage and strength in the face of brutal aggression, courage and strength that’s inspired not only your Ukrainians but the entire world.”
In a virtual address to Congress from Kyiv, Zelenskyy asked the U.S. to set up a no-fly zone over Ukraine, sanction Russian politicians and shut down business operations in the country.
However, the U.S. and its NATO allies have resisted calls to implement a no-fly zone, fearing it could draw them into direct conflict with Russian forces.