Updated Mar 16, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden announces $800 million in new military aid to Ukraine

President Biden announced Wednesday that the U.S. will provide Ukraine with an additional $800 million in military aid, including direct transfers of anti-aircraft systems and drones to help the Ukrainian military defend itself.

Why it matters: The announcement, which came just hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered an emotional address to Congress pleading for more assistance, brings the total amount of military aid to Ukraine authorized in the past week to over $1 billion.

  • Biden directed $200 million in military aid to be sent to Ukraine from his presidential drawdown authority on Saturday.
  • The rest of the funding will come from a $13.6 billion aid package to Ukraine that Congress passed last week, which was divided between humanitarian and security assistance.

Details: The U.S. will directly transfer the following equipment to the Ukrainian military as part of the latest package, according to a White House fact sheet:

  • 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems
  • 2,000 Javelin anti-armor missiles
  • 1,000 light anti-armor weapons
  • 6,000 AT-4 anti-armor systems
  • 100 Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems (armed drones)
  • 7,000 small arms for both military and civilian use (100 grenade launchers, 5,000 rifles, 1,000 pistols, 400 machine guns and 400 shotguns)
  • Over 20 million rounds of ammunition
  • 25,000 sets of body armor
  • 25,000 helmets

The big picture: The U.S. provided $650 million in military aid to Ukraine in 2021, more than it had in the previous eight years that Ukraine had been fighting a war against Russian-backed forces in the east.

  • After Russia's large-scale invasion began, the Biden administration surged an additional $350 million into Ukraine.
  • "We're going to give Ukraine the arms to fight and defend themselves through all the difficult days ahead," Biden pledged on Wednesday.

What they're saying: "I want to thank President Zelensky for his passionate message this morning. I listened to it in the private residence. He was convincing and [it was] a significant speech," Biden said in his announcement.

  • "Now, I want to be honest with you. This could be a long and difficult battle. But the American people will be steadfast in our support and the people of Ukraine in the face of Putin's immoral, unethical attacks on civilian populations," he continued.
  • "We're united in our abhorrence of Putin's depraved onslaught and we're going to continue to have their backs as they fight for freedom, democracy, their very survival."

What to watch: Zelensky and bipartisan members of Congress have urged Biden to send advanced anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine in the absence of a NATO "no-fly" zone.

  • Acknowledging Zelensky's request, Biden said the U.S. has "identified" and is "helping Ukraine acquire longer-range anti-missile systems, and the munitions for those systems."
  • That's likely a reference to the S-300 anti-aircraft systems possessed by NATO allies in Eastern Europe.

Go deeper: Highlights from Zelensky's speech to Congress

Go deeper