President Joe Biden announced $800 million more in security assistance to Ukraine after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued a public plea to lawmakers Wednesday.
Zelenskyy, speaking from Kyiv, addressed Congress virtually Wednesday morning. Biden called his speech “convincing” and “passionate,” but Biden’s security assistance package didn’t include Zelenskyy’s key requests.
The Ukrainian president pushed for a no-fly zone – a move that the Biden administration opposes – and requested fighter jets to give the Ukrainian military the ability to better defend their skies.
“The world is united in our support for Ukraine and our determination to make [Russian President Vladimir] Putin pay a very heavy price,” Biden said just hours after Zelenskyy’s address. “America is leading this effort, together with our allies and partners, providing an enormous level of security and humanitarian assistance that we’re adding to today, and we’re going to continue to do more in the days and weeks ahead.”
While Wednesday’s security assistance doesn’t include Zelenskyy’s two major requests, it will provide hundreds of Stinger anti-aircraft systems, thousands of Javelin missiles, light-anti-armor weapons and AT-4 anti-armor systems, and millions of rounds of small arms ammunition, according to a fact sheet provided by the White House.
The $800 million assistance package brings the total U.S. security assistance to $1 billion in the past week, the White House noted. The U.S. has committed $2 billion in assistance to Ukraine since Biden took office. (RELATED: Biden Signs Government Funding, Ukrainian Aid Bill)
“This is a struggle that pits the appetites of an autocrat against humankind’s desire to be free. And, let there be no doubt no uncertainty, no question: America stands with the forces of freedom. We always have. We always will,” Biden declared.