President Biden promised Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy an additional $500 million in aid during their nearly one-hour phone conversation Wednesday, the White House confirmed.
The call between the leaders of the U.S. and Ukraine lasted from approximately 11:08 a.m. to 12:03 p.m. EST, and afterward both parties revealed what was discussed.
Biden informed Zelenskyy “that the United States intends to provide the Ukrainian government with $500 million in direct budgetary aid,” according to the White House.
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The White House later clarified to Fox News that the $500 million was new funding. It comes in addition to the $800 million in security assistance announced by the White House on March 16, which brought the total committed to Ukraine in that past week alone to $1 billion. As of Wednesday, the U.S. has now allocated a total of $2.5 billion in funding for Ukraine since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.
According to the White House, Biden spoke to Zelenskyy “about the ongoing work by the United States and its allies and partners to deliver military, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and to impose severe costs on Russia for its brutal aggression against Ukraine.”
“The leaders discussed how the United States is working around the clock to fulfill the main security assistance requests by Ukraine, the critical effects those weapons have had on the conflict and continued efforts by the United States with allies and partners to identify additional capabilities to help the Ukrainian military defend its country,” a White House readout said. “Biden also reviewed the additional sanctions and humanitarian assistance announced last week. President Zelenskyy updated President Biden on the status of Ukraine’s negotiations with Russia.”
Zelenskyy tweeted that he finished the call, revealing that he “shared assessment of the situation on the battlefield and at the negotiating table” and “talked about specific defensive support, a new package of enhanced sanctions, macro-financial and humanitarian aid.”
The call came after Ukrainian and Russian delegations met in Istanbul, Turkey Tuesday for the first in-person discussion in nearly three weeks as the situation on the ground changed to a war of attrition.
Russia’ deputy minister of defense told reporters in Moscow Tuesday that Russian forces would withdraw from Kyiv and Chernihiv to establish goodwill during the talks, but defense experts warned Fox News that Moscow was simply buying time to reorganize its troops. Russian forces continued their shelling overnight of several Ukrainian cities. By Wednesday, the defense ministry announced it would “resume” offensive operations, meaning forward movement on the ground.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Wednesday that Russian units have been “repositioning” around Kyiv in the past 24 hours and also have been moving north into Belarus, noting that the Russians themselves have said they are going to prioritize eastern Ukraine in the Donbas region.
Kirby also spoke about U.S. European Command Commander Gen. Tod Walters’ testimony before Congress Tuesday, saying that some 100 kamikaze switchblade drones promised by Biden have been delayed. In an interview with Stuart Varney, Kirby blamed “inventory” and “modality” issues, saying he’s expecting shipments of the tactical unmanned systems to arrive in Ukraine “relatively soon.”
Meanwhile, UNICEF announced Wednesday that more than two million children have fled the war in Ukraine in search of safety across borders. An additional 2.5 million children are displaced within the country, as 60% of children in Ukraine have been forced from their homes as attacks on urban areas continue.
More than 1.1 million children have arrived in Poland, with hundreds of thousands also arriving in Romania, Moldova, Hungary Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has documented more than 100 children killed and 134 injured during the conflict, though the true tolls are expected to be much higher.
Source: Fox News