President Biden announces $800 million in new security aid for Ukraine following Zelensky’s speech

Bringing the total of $1 billion announced in just the last week
Originally Published: 15 MAR 22 23:20 ET
Updated: 16 MAR 22 13:15 ET

(CNN) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced an additional $800 million in security assistance to Ukraine, bringing the total to $1 billion announced in just the last week.

“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. “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.”

The package of military assistance will include anti-tank missiles and more of the defensive weapons that the US has already been providing, including Javelin anti-tank and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, officials familiar with the plans said. The assistance, however, will stop short of the no-fly zone or fighter jets that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said are necessary to sustain Ukraine’s fight against Russia.

News of the additional assistance, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, comes as the White House continues to face intense pressure from Congress and Zelensky to find new ways to aid Ukraine. The Ukrainian President, who remains in his country, addressed US members of Congress remotely Wednesday and renewed his calls for more assistance.

Given that Zelensky was specific in his requests, officials said Biden was also going to be specific about what assistance the new $800 million will go toward in Ukraine, including potentially the armed drones that Zelensky has called for.

The $800 million in security assistance comes from the massive spending bill the President signed into law on Tuesday, which includes $13.6 billion total in new aid to Ukraine.

The Biden administration will look to get these hundreds of millions in new aid to Ukraine as quickly as possible, with the President noting Tuesday that it is becoming “exceedingly difficult” to get new supplies into Ukraine, though they are still able to do so.

The Biden administration is also continuing to develop sanctions targeting top Russian officials and those in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, with plans to ramp up the number of targets in the coming days and weeks, according to multiple US officials.

The process has been ongoing, and has taken into account specific suggestions of targets provided by top Ukrainian officials, including Zelensky, the officials said. In a call with Biden last week, Zelensky laid out a more specific range of targets for individual sanctions, one of the officials said. The administration is currently working to address those requested targets.

in his virtual remarks to Congress, Zelensky went further when he requested the US impose sanctions on all Russian politicians who continue to support the government. While some Zelensky requests, including the implementation of a no-fly zone, remain off the table for Biden, the sanctions are viewed by the administration as a tool they can readily deploy.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the US has slapped sanctions on dozens of top Russian officials and oligarchs, as well as their family members. Biden also signed off on targeting Putin directly with individual sanctions, in coordination with the European Union and United Kingdom.

In a sign of the speed with which US officials are looking to move to support Ukraine, the administration has sent about $300 million of the $350 million Biden recently authorized for Ukraine in a little over two weeks.

As Russia’s invasion has raged on, Zelensky has pressured Biden and NATO to do more, expressing frustrations over Western allies’ concerns about provoking Putin. He renewed those calls on Wednesday.

“Russia has turned the Ukrainian sky into a source of death for thousands of people,” he told Congress as he described the use of missiles, bombs and drones by Russian troops to inflict brutal and deadly attacks on his country. “We are asking for a reply to this terror from the whole world.”

“To create a no-fly zone over Ukraine to save people, is this too much to ask?” he said. Zelensky went on to say, “You know how much depends on the battlefield, on the ability to use aircraft, powerful strong aviation to protect our people, our freedom, our land, aircraft that can help Ukraine, help Europe. You know they exist and you have them, but they are on Earth not in the Ukrainian sky.”

“I need to protect our sky,” he said.

At the conclusion of his remarks on Wednesday, Zelensky had an impassioned message for Biden, saying, “You are the leader of your grand nation. I wish you to be the leader of the world. Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace.”

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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