Biden government gives Ukraine $60 million in military aid as White House tries to curb increase in activity by Russian forces along border
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits the White House on Wednesday
- In advance, the Biden administration said it would give $60 million in military aid
- That includes Javelin anti-armor missile systems and small arms
- It was necessary to counter a wave of ‘Russian military activity along the border’
- Military aid to Ukraine sparked President Trump’s first impeachment
The Biden administration is promising $60 million in military aid to Ukraine ahead of President Joe Biden’s meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart on Wednesday in a bid to fight Russian aggression.
The pack includes Javelin anti-armor missile systems, first aid kits and small arms and ammunition.
Details emerged a day before Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is due to go to the White House as a token of support for Kiev’s sovereignty.
In a notification to Congress, the administration said the aid was needed because of a… ‘big increase in Russian military activity along the border’, mortar attacks, ceasefire violations and other provocations.
“Russia’s build-up along the Ukrainian border has revealed capacity shortfalls in the ability of the Ukrainian military to defend itself against a Russian incursion,” it said.
“Ukraine’s significant capacity gaps need to be addressed urgently to strengthen deterrence in the face of the current Russian threat.”
President Biden will welcome his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky to the White House on Wednesday, where they will discuss a united front against Russian aggression.
This handout photo, released on Thursday, April 22, 2021 by the press service of the Russian Defense Ministry, shows Russian military vehicles moving during exercises in Crimea. An increase in Russian activity along the Ukrainian border is the reason for the injection of aid
Russia staged massive military exercises involving 10,000 troops and 40 warships in Crimea in April amid mounting tensions with Ukraine.
Aid is intended to help Ukraine counter the build-up of Russian power on its border
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 after the ouster of the former Kremlin-friendly president and has thrown its weight behind a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.
While expressing its support for Ukraine, the White House has also said Biden plans to encourage Zelensky’s efforts to tackle corruption in the country.
For his part, Zelensky is expected to boost Biden Washington’s decision not to try to block the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany, which bypasses Ukraine.
Ukraine fears the pipeline will be used by Russia as a powerful geopolitical weapon.
Military aid to Ukraine was a politically charged affair for the Trump administration.
Before his White House meeting, Zelensky announced a new defense agreement with the US, signed during a visit to the Pentagon
In 2019, Trump was accused of withholding aid and visiting the White House when he sought a return in the form of political dirt on Biden, who then emerged as his likely election challenger.
Trump was impeached and acquitted by a partisan vote in the Senate, where only one Republican, Utah’s Mitt Romney, voted to convict.
The latest round of aid aims to demonstrate US commitment to Ukraine’s security as the former Soviet Republic has sought stronger Western support amid Russia’s troop build-up and escalating tensions. The new package will include more Javelin anti-tank missiles, which Kiev sees as crucial to defending against the Russian-backed separatists who have rolled through eastern Ukraine.
The Pentagon announced a $125 million military aid package to Ukraine in March, including two armed patrol boats to help the country defend its territorial waters.
The US says it has pledged more than $2.5 billion in aid to Ukraine since the conflict with Russia began.