Biden announces additional $800m in military aid to Ukraine

US President Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden has authorized $800 million in additional military aid to Ukraine, which includes artillery, helicopters and armored personnel carriers.

“The Ukrainian military has used the weapons we are providing to devastating effect. As Russia prepares to intensify its attack in the Donbas region, the United States will continue to provide Ukraine with the capabilities to defend itself,” Biden said on Wednesday.

“This new package of assistance will contain many of the highly effective weapons systems we have already provided and new capabilities tailored to the wider assault we expect Russia to launch in eastern Ukraine,” he noted. “These new capabilities include artillery systems, artillery rounds and armored personnel carriers. I have also approved the transfer of additional helicopters.”

The new military aid package would include military equipment such as unmanned surface vehicles, Mi-17 helicopters, howitzers and protective equipment against possible chemical attacks, two US officials familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

The US has already delivered $2.4 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of Biden’s term in office, though much of that aid has come since Russia’s military operation against Ukraine began in late February.

Meanwhile, Russia announced on Wednesday that it views the US-made weapons in Ukraine as ‘legitimate’ military targets.

“We are warning that US-NATO weapons transports across Ukrainian territory will be considered by us as legal military targets,” Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in an interview with TASS on Wednesday, warning that any attempts by the West to significantly damage Russia’s military or its separatist allies in Ukraine would be “harshly suppressed.”

Russia President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” on February 24 to demilitarize Donetsk and Luhansk, largely populated by ethnic Russians, in eastern Ukraine.

The US and its European allies have labeled the military operation as “Putin’s land grab,” imposing waves of unprecedented sanctions on Moscow.

In 2014, the two regions - collectively known as the Donbass – declared themselves new republics; a move that triggered a persisting and bloody conflict between Kiev and the armed pro-Russian separatists.

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