Updated Sep 21, 2023 - World

Biden announces $325 million in Ukraine aid during Zelensky visit

Presidents Biden and Zelensky with first ladies Jill Biden and Olena Zelenska at the White House on Sept. 21.

Presidents Biden and Zelensky with first ladies Jill Biden and Olena Zelenska at the White House on Sept. 21. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden announced a new $325 million aid package for Ukraine during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's visit Thursday.

Why it matters: Zelensky's visit comes at a crucial moment for Ukraine, as it seeks to shore up support and secure additional funding for its counteroffensive against Russia.

What they're saying: "Today I approved the next tranche of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine including more artillery, more ammunition, more anti-tank weapons and next week, the first U.S. Abrams tanks will be delivered to Ukraine," Biden said.

  • The latest aid package will focus on bolstering Ukraine's air defense capabilities, Biden said.

Details: In addition to meeting Biden, Zelensky had a closed-door meeting Thursday afternoon with U.S. senators, many of whom publicly praised the wartime leader afterward.

  • They discussed "the battlefield situation and priority defense needs," Zelensky wrote in a post on X Thursday, thanking senators for their support.
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also took to X to share a photo with Zelensky, writing that "American support for Ukraine is not charity. It's in our own direct interests."
  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) praised Zelensky's "powerful, heartfelt message," also sharing a photo from the meeting.

Of note: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Thursday said he denied Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's request to deliver a joint address to Congress.

  • "Zelensky asked for a joint session, we just didn't have time. He's already given a joint session," McCarthy told reporters Thursday.

Earlier Thursday, following his meeting with House lawmakers, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) told reporters the president had "world courage and world clarity."

State of play: Biden in August requested $24 billion of additional aid for the country.

  • "Mr. Zelensky said, 'If we don't get the aid, we will lose the war,'" Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters Thursday.
  • But Republican opposition for additional aid for Kyiv has been mounting. In a letter to the Biden administration Thursday, 29 Republicans voiced their opposition to the funding.

Zoom out: Zelensky addressed the UN Security Council Wednesday, condemning Russia's "criminal and unprovoked aggression" and the UN's inaction.

  • Russia launched massive strikes against Ukraine Thursday, ahead of Zelensky's meeting with President Biden, Congress and the Pentagon.
  • "We must work together to fully deprive Russia of its terrorist potential. At my meetings, air defense will be among top priorities," Zelensky posted on X Thursday.

Worth noting: The Department of Defense said Thursday that its Ukraine operations are exempt from a potential government shutdown, which is becoming increasingly inevitable.

Go deeper: Zelensky's frosty welcome to D.C.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional developments.

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