US

Biden set to announce new military assistance to Ukraine

President Joe Biden is expected to announce his intention to send additional military aid to help Ukraine fight off the Russian invasion, according to a US official.

The official, who was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said Biden would deliver a speech Thursday morning at the White House detailing his plans to rely on military aid from Israel. about $2.6 billion that the administration has already approved for Ukraine. .

The new package is expected to be similar in size to the $800 million package announced by Biden last week. It includes heavy artillery and ammunition essential to Ukrainian forces in the escalating battle for the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine.

Earlier this week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said his country would send heavy artillery to Ukraine. And Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that the Netherlands would send more heavy weapons, including armored vehicles.

A senior US defense official said on Wednesday that training for Ukrainian personnel on US 155mm howitzers had begun in a European country outside Ukraine.

Biden on Wednesday praised US military officials for their “outstanding” work in arming Ukraine as he gathered top national military brass for their first in-person group meeting at the White House of his presidency. .

It’s an annual tradition that had been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, but is now being revived as the United States arms Ukraine to help fight the Russian invasion.

“I don’t know about you, but I was in Ukraine many times before the war… and I knew they were tough and proud but I tell you what: they are tougher and prouder than I thought,” Biden told military commanders. “I’m amazed at what they’re doing with your help.”

Biden has brought together senior civilian and uniformed Pentagon officials amid the most serious fighting in Europe since World War II. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nearly two months ago has been the focus of wide-ranging discussions with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Undersecretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, heads of Joint Chiefs of Staff and Combatant Commanders.

Biden also used the rally to reflect on his administration’s efforts to diversify Pentagon leadership. Hicks is the first Senate-confirmed woman to hold the post. Biden also selected Air Force General Jacqueline Van Ovost as commander of United States Transportation Command and Army Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson as commander of United States Southern Command. They are only the second and third women to lead combatant commands.

“This is an important step,” Biden said. “I think it shows how we harness the strength and diversity of our country.”

After the meeting, Biden and First Lady Jill Biden hosted the military leaders and their wives for dinner in the Blue Room of the White House.

Such a rally was last held in October 2019. Donald Trump was president at the time and was facing a House investigation that would lead to his first impeachment, centered on allegations that he refused aid Ukraine’s military as part of an effort to pressure Zelenskyy. to dig up dirt on Biden’s adult son’s business dealings in Ukraine.

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AP National Security Editor Robert Burns contributed to this report.

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