Biden unveils new weapons package for Ukraine
President Biden on Thursday announced another $800 million in military aid for Ukraine, including heavy artillery, bringing the total U.S. military aid since Russian invaded on Feb. 24 to around $3.4 billion.
Why it matters: Biden argued that U.S. support had already helped Ukraine win "a historic victory" in "the Battle of Kyiv." Now that the war has shifted to the eastern Donbas region, Biden said U.S. arms shipments would be tailored to help Ukraine win that fight. The U.S. is easily the largest supplier for the Ukrainian war effort.
- The new $800 million package includes 72 of howitzer artillery systems and 144,000 artillery shells to go with them, as well as tactical drones.
- Ukrainian troops are currently being trained to use howitzers after Biden included them for the first time in another $800 million package announced last week. Artillery systems and ammunition are a particularly glaring need for the Ukrainians.
- Biden said there was now "a critical window" to supply Ukrainian forces for the fight in the Donbas.
The U.S. is also providing Ukraine with intelligence and facilitating the flow of weapons from NATO allies in Europe to Ukraine, Biden said.
- He added that not all U.S. aid would be public, paraphrasing Teddy Roosevelt by saying, "Sometimes we will speak softly and carry a large Javelin [missile]."
- Biden also announced an additional $500 million in direct economic support to the Ukrainian government to help stabilize the economy, pay workers and cope with the destruction in the country.
- Biden said he would be sending a funding request to Congress for additional military aid to ensure weapons shipments continue uninterrupted.
Between the lines: Reluctance to provide certain offensive weapons to Ukraine has largely faded in Washington, but that's not the case in some European capitals.
- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is under pressure from Kyiv and from domestic critics for refusing to provide certain heavy weaponry, like tanks or other military vehicles, and for moving slowly on other arms shipments.
- An official from another European country briefed reporters this week that before any weapons system is sent to Ukraine, there must be an analysis of whether it would be viewed by Russia as escalatory.
What he's saying: Biden said Americans should be proud that U.S. weapons and intelligence had helped Ukraine "beat back Putin's savagery."
- "Putin has failed to achieve his grand ambitions on the battlefield. After weeks of shelling Kyiv, Kyiv still stands," he said.
Worth noting: Biden also announced that Russian-affiliated ships would be banned from U.S. ports, mirroring a step taken in Europe.
- He briefed the press after meeting with Ukraine's prime minister, who is visiting Washington.