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Biden announces additional $800m arms package for Ukraine

Biden announces additional $800m arms package for Ukraine
US president is also banning Russian ships from American ports

President Joe Biden on Thursday said the US will send an additional $800m in defence assistance and $500m in “direct economic assistance” to Ukraine and stand up a new program to speed entry of Ukrainian refugees into the United States.

Mr Biden said the newest aid packages bring the total amount sent to Kyiv this month alone to more than a billion dollars, and credited the defence assistance provided by the US and EU with helping Ukrainian forces fend off Russia’s invasion over the last two months.

“This is money the government can help us to stabilize their economy, to support communities that have been devastated by the Russian onslaught, and pay the brave workers that continue to provide essential services to the people of Ukraine,” he said.

“Every American taxpayer, every member of our armed forces can be proud of the fact that our country’s generosity and the skill and service of our military helped to … repel Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, to beat back Putin’s savagery … and wipe out Ukraine’s government,” Mr Biden continued, calling the “Battle of Kyiv” a “historic victory for the Ukrainians” won with “unprecedented assistance by the United States and our allies and our partners”.

“Now we have to accelerate that assistance package to help prepare Ukraine for Russia’s offensive that’s going to be more limited in terms of geography, but not in terms of brutality,” he said.

Mr Biden said the US aid would be sent “directly” to what he described as “the frontlines of freedom” — to be put in the hands of the “fearless and skilled Ukrainian fighters” who have been “standing in the breach” against Mr Putin’s forces.

But the president warned that his authority to direct arms and aid to Ukrainian forces is quickly butting up against the upper limits of the appropriations bill he signed into law last month.

He said he will be asking Congress to approve a supplemental budget request he will be sending “to keep weapons and ammunition flowing without interruption”.

“My expectation is Congress would move and act quickly,” he said.

Additionally, Mr Biden announced the US will establish a new “humanitarian parole” programme to complement “existing legal pathways” for Ukrainian refugees, enabling refugees to come directly from Europe to the US and avoid having to present themselves for asylum at the US-Mexico border, and said he was signing an order prohibiting Russian-affiliated ships from US ports.

“No ship that sails under the Russian flag, or that is owned or operated by Russian interests will be allowed to dock in a United States port or access our shores — none,” he said, adding that the ban was “another critical step” taken “in concert” with US allies in the UK, Canada, and EU “to deny Russia the benefits of international economic system that they so enjoyed in the past”.