President Joe Biden said Wednesday that the United States will provide an additional $800 million in military aid to Ukraine, including anti-aircraft and anti-armor systems, drones and a range of other weapons.
The announcement came hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed members of Congress via video, delivering an urgent and emotional plea for more help against the onslaught launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I call on you to do more,” Zelensky said, asking again for a no-fly zone to be established over Ukraine to protect against Russian aerial attacks. Zelensky ended his speech by addressing remarks to Biden in English: “You are the leader of your great nation. I wish you to be the leader of the world. Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace.”
Biden said he watched Zelensky’s speech from the White House residence and called it “convincing” and “significant.” Still, Biden and other US officials have resisted establishing the no-fly zone, fearing an escalation that could lead to US troops in direct combat against Russian forces.
Biden’s announcement of additional aid raises the total committed to Ukraine to $1 billion over the past week, and $2 billion since the president took office.
“I want to be honest with you: This could be a long and difficult battle,” Biden said. “We are united in our abhorrence of Putin’s depraved onslaught, and we’re going to continue to have their backs as they fight for their freedom, their democracy, their very survival. And we’re going to give Ukraine the arms to fight and defend themselves through all the difficult days ahead.”
The new $800 million in funding will come from the $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian aid Congress appropriated last week. The White House said the new assistance includes:
800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems;
2,000 Javelin, 1,000 light anti-armor weapons, and 6,000 AT-4 anti-armor systems;
100 Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems;
100 grenade launchers, 5,000 rifles, 1,000 pistols, 400 machine guns, and 400 shotguns;
Over 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition and grenade launcher and mortar rounds;
25,000 sets of body armor; and
Biden said more aid would be coming in the days and weeks ahead.