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Biden announces heavy artillery, other weapons for Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) – United States (US) President Joe Biden pledged an additional USD1.3 billion on Thursday for new weapons and economic assistance to help Ukraine in its strong but increasingly difficult battle against the Russian invasion, and he promised to seek much more from Congress to keep the guns, ammunition and cash flowing.

The latest military aid, Biden said, will be sent “directly to the front lines of freedom”.

“Putin is banking on us losing interest,” Biden said. The Russian president is betting that “Western unity will crack… and once again we’re going to prove him wrong”.

The new package includes USD800 million in military aid for much-needed heavy artillery, 144,000 rounds of ammunition and drones for the escalating battle in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. It builds on roughly USD2.6 billion in military assistance that Biden
previously approved.

There’s also a fresh USD500 million in direct economic assistance to Ukraine for government salaries, pensions and other programs. That raises the total US economic support to USD1 billion since Russia’s invasion began nearly two months ago.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed his gratitude to the US in his nightly address in Ukraine, saying the military aid was “just what we were waiting for”. Earlier in a virtual address to the World Bank meeting in Washington, he said his nation will also need up to USD7 billion each month to make up for economic losses.

With tens of thousands of buildings damaged and key infrastructure in ruins, Ukraine “will need hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild”, Zelenskyy said.

United States President Joe Biden walks to board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, en route to Portland, Oregon. PHOTO: AP