US Pledges $60mn in New Military Aid to Ukraine, Citing “The Russia Threat”
By Staff, Agencies
US President Joe Biden has pledged $60 million in new military and security aid to Ukraine, saying Washington is “firmly committed” to the European country’s territorial integrity against what he called “Russian aggression.”
“The United States remains firmly committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression,” Biden said at the beginning of his first face-to-face meeting with Ukraine’s President Volodmyr Zelenskiy in the Oval Office on Wednesday.
According to a senior Biden administration official, cited by Reuters, the $60-million security assistance package for Ukraine includes Javelin anti-armor systems and other “defensive lethal and nonlethal capabilities.”
Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been deteriorating since 2014, when the then-Ukrainian territory of Crimea voted in a referendum to fall under Russian sovereignty. The US and the European Union [EU] backed Kiev and refused to recognize the referendum results, later imposing sanctions on Moscow.
Furthermore, Ukraine, as well as the EU and the US, claim that Russia has a hand in an ongoing conflict that erupted in the Donbass region of Ukraine between government forces and ethnic Russians in 2014. The West imposed sanctions on Russia after accusing it of interfering in the conflict. Moscow denies that allegation.
Speaking alongside Zelensky on Wednesday, Biden repeated the broad claims of “Russian aggression,” and said he wanted a Europe “whole, free, and at peace.”
According to a notice issued to Congress, the White House said, “Ukraine’s significant capability gaps must be urgently addressed to reinforce deterrence in light of the current Russian threat.”
On Friday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki underscored Washington’s “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression in Donbas and Crimea.”
In his opening remarks on Wednesday, Zelenskiy said that he would seek to hear Biden’s vision of Ukraine’s chances for joining NATO and a time frame for such accession.
Back in June, the Ukrainian president said that he wanted a clear “Yes” or “No” from Biden about Ukraine’s wish to join NATO. His remark at the time came after a standoff with neighboring Russia over buildups of forces and military equipment on both sides of the Ukraine-Russia border.
NATO countries say Ukraine needs to enforce more political reforms before becoming a member. Earlier, Psaki stressed that Ukraine needed to modernize its defense sector and advance so-called rule-of-law reforms in order to meet NATO membership standards.
Zelenskiy told reporters after his meeting with Biden that no time frame on NATO membership had been produced. He said, however, that, “I feel that the president personally, and not only feel – I heard this – the president personally supports Ukraine regarding the granting of NATO membership.”