US President Joe Biden has said that the United States plans to send an additional $800 million in military aid to Ukraine, including advanced air defense systems and other “offensive” weapons.
“This summit was about strengthening our alliance, meeting the challenges of our world as it is today and the threats we’re going to face in the future,” Biden told reporters at the press conference.
The US president said the new assistance package would also include more counter-battery radars, artillery and ammunition, including ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
Biden also stated that other countries would send HIMARS to Ukraine, where Russian forces are advancing in a bid to capture the industrial heartland known as the Donbas. Ukraine troops are encircled by Moscow’s troops there.
Earlier this week, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that the US would be sending medium- and long-range air defense systems to Ukraine.
On Thursday, Biden said the United States will support Ukraine for “as long as it takes” to ensure it is not defeated by Russia.
“We are going to stick with Ukraine, and all of the [NATO] alliance are going to stick with Ukraine, as long as it takes to make sure they are not defeated by Russia,” Biden told reporters at the NATO summit.
“Ukraine has already dealt a severe blow to Russia,” he added, noting that he did not know how the conflict was going to end, but pledging “it will not end with a Russian defeat of Ukraine”.
Biden said he told Russian President Vladimir Putin before he launched a military invasion of Ukraine that doing so would strengthen NATO.
“Putin thought he could break the transatlantic alliance. He tried to weaken us. He expected our resolve to fracture. But he’s getting exactly what he did not want,” Biden said.
Biden mentioned the decision by Finland and Sweden to join the US-led military alliance, membership bids that were advanced at the summit after Turkey dropped its objections.
“He wanted the Finland-ization of NATO. He got the NATO-ization of Finland,” Biden said of Putin.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on the US to provide heavy arms and urged the European Union to grant membership to his country.
Since the onset of Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, the United States and its European allies have been sending a flood of advanced weapons into Ukraine to help its military fend off Russian forces.
Ukraine hopes to outmaneuver the Russians by obtaining more advanced weapons. Kiev heavily relies on its Western allies to regain the Donbas, composed of the two breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, where the Russian military has focused its attention on.
Pro-Russia forces had held parts of Luhansk and Donetsk regions even before the Russian onslaught began.
Last week, the Ukrainian government said it had received the first tranche of HIMARS, a long-range weapon system that Kiev hopes can help turn the tide in the months-long battle.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced that it would provide Ukraine with an additional $1 billion in military aid that includes anti-ship rocket systems, artillery rockets, howitzers and ammunition.
Biden said he had informed Zelensky that the US was providing another $1 billion in military aid to the crisis-hit country.
He said the aid included “additional artillery and coastal defense weapons, as well as ammunition for the artillery and advanced rocket systems”, which the Ukrainians need to “support their defensive operations in the Donbas.”
The Ukraine government said it needs the HIMARS systems to better match the range of Russian rocket systems that it said were being extensively used against Ukrainian positions in Donbas.
American officials have said that while HIMARS are vital for Ukrainian forces, but no single weapon system alone can change the war.