Biden announces $325 million aid package as he meets with Zelenskyy

The U.S. will provide Ukraine an additional $325 million in military aid to shore up its counteroffensive campaign against Russian forces, U.S. President Joe Biden announced on Thursday during a White House meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Biden and Zelenskyy held a meeting in the White House as part of a blizzard of appearances the Ukrainian leader made looking to bolster U.S. support for a conflict that began in February 2022.

The U.S. president assured Zelenskyy that strong U.S. support for Ukraine will be maintained despite opposition from some Republican lawmakers to sending billions more in aid.

Zelenskyy thanked Biden for the new military aid package of weaponry and air defenses, saying “it has exactly what our soldiers need now.”

He said he and Biden agreed on specific steps to expand the export of grain from Ukraine in the face of a Black Sea blockade and tensions with neighbor Poland. He did not detail the steps.

Biden’s request for $24 million in more Ukraine funding to help pay for Ukraine’s defense and humanitarian aid through the end of the year is bottled up in a budget fight pushed by Republican hardliners in the House of Representatives.

Asked how to overcome the opposition, Biden said the only way was approval by the U.S. Congress.

“I’m counting on the good judgment of the United States Congress. There’s no alternative,” he said.

Comments from Republican Senator Rand Paul, a frequent critic of foreign aid, were emblematic of the opposition. He told Fox Business News that Ukraine is a “corrupt regime” and that the conflict has no end in sight.

Biden said the first American Abrams tanks will be delivered to Ukraine next week.

“Just as we’re committed to helping Ukraine defend itself now, we’re also committed to helping them recover and rebuild in the future, including supporting reforms that will combat corruption,” Biden said.

The U.S. has sent some $113 billion in security and humanitarian aid to help Zelenskyy’s government since February last year.

Russia casts the United States as a perfidious power that is supporting Ukraine in an attempt to cleave Russia apart and grab its vast natural resources – assertions Washington denies.

(With input from Reuters)

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