President Joe Biden’s Department of Defense is providing a $125 million grant to Ukraine to improve the country’s ability to counter Russian aggression, the Pentagon announced Monday.
The package comes roughly seven years after Russia first annexed Crimea, a region of Ukraine, in 2014. Russia has maintained high levels of aggression toward the former Soviet nation in the years since. Former President Donald Trump was notoriously impeached and subsequently acquitted for holding up a military grant to Ukraine in 2019 for political reasons.
“This action reaffirms the U.S. commitment to providing defensive lethal weapons to enable Ukraine to more effectively defend itself against Russian aggression,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a Monday briefing with reporters. (RELATED: President Biden Launches Pentagon Task Force To Counter China)
BREAKING: @PentagonPresSec announces a new $125M package for Ukraine security, including training, equipment and advisory efforts to help Ukraine secure its borders, defend against Russian, and improve interoperability with NATO.
— Lara Seligman (@laraseligman) March 1, 2021
Biden and Secretary of State Tony Blinken have said that countering both Russia and China on the global stage is a top priority for the administration. While Biden has taken several actions to begin more effectively competing with China, the additional Ukraine funding is the first major action the administration has taken in countering Russia.
Biden has also called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to release his top rival, Alexei Navalny, who was poisoned with a nerve agent in 2020. Navalny has been arrested and charged after returning to Russia in January. (RELATED: REPORT: Ally Of Jailed Putin Critic Flawlessly Plays Beethoven On Piano Amid Arrest By Russian Police)
The Biden administration has also concurred with the previous administration in accusing Russia of perpetrating the SolarWinds hack, with affected hundreds of businesses and at least nine U.S. agencies. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that Biden’s response to the hack would be coming in “weeks, not months.”