President Joe Biden will send Ukraine additional military aid worth $800 million, equipping the country with helicopters and howitzer artillery as it prepares for a new round of major battles with Russian forces.
“The steady supply of weapons the United States and its Allies and partners have provided to Ukraine has been critical in sustaining its fight against the Russian invasion,” Biden said in a statement Wednesday. “It has helped ensure that Putin failed in his initial war aims to conquer and control Ukraine. We cannot rest now.”
The aid package includes radars, drones, armored vehicles, body armor and ammunition, according to a Pentagon statement later in the day.
Six weeks into its attack on Ukraine, Moscow is now focused on capturing two regions in the east of the country, Luhansk and Donetsk, Ukrainian officials and military analysts say. Fresh U.S. shipments could help Ukrainian troops stop Russia from capturing strategic towns and supply routes.
“This will be a knife fight. This could be very bloody and very ugly,” a senior American defense official said of the next phase of the war in a briefing with reporters last week. In preparation, the U.S. also recently allocated $100 million in anti-tank Javelin systems for Ukraine.
Biden has already directed more than $2.4 billion in military support and more than $300 million in humanitarian aid to the country. Congress last month approved nearly $10 billion for such programs. American allies including Britain, Australia, Slovakia and other nations are also pumping supplies, such as air defense equipment and medical gear, to the Ukrainians.
Russia’s vicious approach to the conflict ― including the apparent mass murder of everyday Ukrainians in occupied areas and repeated strikes on civilian targets ― has made Ukraine even more determined to resist. Between the evidence of atrocities and Ukraine’s battlefield prowess so far, Ukrainian activists and officials say there is a clear imperative for foreign governments to provide all the help they can.
And Russian President Vladimir Putin seems set on further fighting, too. He recently appointed a new top commander for the war — one who led brutal assaults in Russia’s intervention in Syria, according to U.S. intelligence. Putin said Tuesday that he sees peace talks as dead.
“Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being a Ukrainian,” Biden said on Tuesday. He suggested that Washington views Russia’s campaign as “genocide,” and he has previously called Putin a war criminal.