WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has committed an additional $350 million in military assistance to Ukraine, including anti-armor munitions, small arms and other equipment, to help the former Soviet republic defend itself against Russia’s onslaught, a Pentagon spokesman said Saturday.
Biden authorized the aid Friday, bringing total assistance approved for Ukraine to $1 billion in the last year, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters. Kirby said the new package marks the third time the president has expedited emergency security assistance for Ukraine’s defense in recent months using the Presidential Drawdown Authority.
Kirby said the U.S. was not alone in sending materiel to the government in Kyiv as it struggles to repel an invasion by Russian forces, whose ranks and arsenal dwarf the Ukrainian army’s.
“Many other countries are contributing to Ukraine’s ability to defend itself from the unprovoked Russian aggression. We, along with our allies and partners, are standing together to continue to expedite security assistance to Ukraine,” Kirby said, adding that Washington’s pledges signified its “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The latest aid is in addition to 7,000 additional U.S. troops that Biden said Thursday he would send to Europe to protect eastern members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Some 90,000 U.S. troops are already stationed across Europe, mostly in NATO countries. Biden has repeatedly emphasized that the U.S.’s posture in Europe will be defensive in nature and will not involve going into Ukraine, which is not a NATO member.
“Our forces are not and will not be engaged in the conflict,” Biden said Thursday. “Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine but to defend our NATO allies and reassure those allies in the east.”
On Friday, following a 40-minute call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Biden also unveiled new sanctions against Russia aimed at a $10 billion Kremlin-run investment fund and at Russian President Vladimir Putin himself. The move matched similar ones by European allies, although they stop short of the more drastic step of barring Russia from using SWIFT, the global financial messaging network that connects more than 11,000 banks.
Also on Saturday, a senior defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the fast-moving situation in Ukraine, said the U.S. has received multiple indications that the Russians are increasingly frustrated with their incursion’s lack of momentum, particularly in their attack in the north of Ukraine. As of Saturday morning, the official said, Russian troops remained a little under 20 miles north of the capital city of Kyiv, the official said.
“They have been frustrated by what they have seen is a very determined resistance,” the official said, adding that, while Ukraine’s air- and missile-defense systems had been targeted, they remained viable, and that there was still no indication Russia had taken control of any Ukrainian cities.
Laura Wides-Munoz, Los Angeles Times