Russia has denounced the US military assistance to Ukraine, saying such American actions could make Kyiv behave unpredictably and dangerously and "can only be a cause for regret."
A Kremlin spokesperson on Thursday also expressed regret at a US-Ukrainian "friendship" saying it is motivated by opposition to Russia, Reuters reported.
"We believe this could potentially cause unpredictable actions by the Ukrainian side in terms of attempting to resolve the ... Ukrainian conflict ... by force. This is very dangerous," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
"To put it simply, we're talking about a Ukrainian-American friendship against Russia. That is to say, they're friends not for themselves, but against Russia. This ... can only be a cause for regret,” he added.
During a meeting at the White House on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Washington that the United States was "firmly committed" to Ukraine's territorial integrity and reportedly focused much of their discussion on countering what they called Russian aggression. Biden also offered $60 million in new security aid.
According to a senior Biden administration official, cited by Reuters, the $60-million security assistance package for Ukraine includes Javelin anti-armor systems and other “defensive lethal and nonlethal capabilities.”
US announces $45 million in humanitarian aid for Ukraine
On Thursday, the Biden administration announced that it is sending $45 million in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine following Wednesday’s White House meeting between Biden and Zelensky.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the new assistance will go toward supporting roughly 3.4 million people in need in Ukraine.
“This assistance will help provide life-saving food, shelter, home heating materials, essential health care, including mental health and psychosocial support, and safe drinking water,” Blinken said in a statement. “Our funding will also help our partners maintain contact between family members who have been separated due to the conflict, including reunification in some cases.”
Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been deteriorating since 2014, when the then-Ukrainian territory of Crimea voted in a referendum to fall under Russian sovereignty. The US and the European Union (EU) backed Kiev and refused to recognize the referendum results, later imposing sanctions on Moscow.
Furthermore, Ukraine, as well as the EU and the US, claim that Russia has a hand in an ongoing conflict that erupted in the Donbass region of Ukraine between government forces and ethnic Russians in 2014. The West imposed sanctions on Russia after accusing it of interfering in the conflict. Moscow denies that allegation.
Speaking alongside Zelensky on Wednesday, Biden repeated the broad claims of “Russian aggression,” and said he wanted a Europe “whole, free, and at peace.”
“Russia’s buildup along the Ukrainian border has highlighted capability shortfalls in the Ukrainian military’s ability to defend against a Russian incursion,” Biden said in a notification to Congress. “Ukraine’s significant capability gaps must be urgently addressed to reinforce deterrence in light of the current Russian threat.”
According to a notice issued to Congress, the White House said, “Ukraine’s significant capability gaps must be urgently addressed to reinforce deterrence in light of the current Russian threat.”
Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin similarly affirmed American military support for Ukraine against Russian aggression this week.
"You can count on our continued support in the face of Russian aggression to help Ukraine realize its Euro-Atlantic aspirations in support of a more secure, prosperous and democratic and free Ukraine,” Austin said to Zelensky during a meeting Tuesday.
Back in June, the Ukrainian president said that he wanted a clear “Yes” or “No” from Biden about Ukraine’s wish to join NATO. His remark at the time came after a standoff with neighboring Russia over buildups of forces and military equipment on both sides of the Ukraine-Russia border.
NATO countries say Ukraine needs to enforce more political reforms before becoming a member. Earlier, Psaki stressed that Ukraine needed to modernize its defense sector and advance so-called rule-of-law reforms in order to meet NATO membership standards.
Zelenskiy told reporters after his meeting with Biden that no time frame on NATO membership had been produced. He said, however, that, “I feel that the president personally, and not only feel — I heard this — the president personally supports Ukraine regarding the granting of NATO membership.”