Biden pledges Zelenskyy another $500 million in funding in hour-long appeal, bringing US aid to Ukraine to $2.5 billion

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President Biden promised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy an additional $500 million in aid during their nearly hour-long phone call Wednesday, the White House confirmed.

The talk between US-Ukraine leaders lasted from approximately 11:08 a.m. to 12:03 a.m. EST, after which both sides revealed what had been discussed.

Biden told Zelenskyy “the United States plans to provide the Ukrainian government with $500 million in direct budget aid,” the White House said.

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The White House later clarified to Fox News that the $500 million was new funding. It comes on top of $800 million in security assistance announced by the White House on March 16, bringing the total allocated to Ukraine in the past week alone to $1 billion. As of Wednesday, the US has now allocated a total of $2.5 billion in funding to Ukraine since the Russian invasion of February 24.

According to the White House, Biden spoke to Zelenskyy “about the ongoing work of the United States and its allies and partners to provide military, economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine and to impose heavy costs on Russia for its brutal aggression against Ukraine.”

“Leaders discussed how the United States is working around the clock to meet Ukraine’s key requests for security assistance, the critical effects these weapons have had on the conflict, and the United States’ continued efforts with allies and partners to build additional capabilities. to help the Ukrainian military defend its country,” said a White House readout. “Biden has also reviewed additional sanctions and humanitarian aid announced last week. President Zelenskyy has briefed President Biden on the status of Ukraine’s negotiations with Russia.”

Zelenskyy tweeted that he had ended the conversation, revealing that he “shared the assessment of the situation on the battlefield and at the negotiating table” and “talked about specific defensive support, a new package of tougher sanctions, macro-financial and humanitarian aid”.

The call came after Ukrainian and Russian delegations gathered in Istanbul, Turkey on Tuesday for the first face-to-face discussion in nearly three weeks, as the situation on the ground turned into a war of attrition.

Russia’s deputy defense minister told reporters in Moscow on Tuesday that Russian troops would withdraw from Kiev and Chernihiv during talks to cultivate goodwill, but defense experts warned Fox News that Moscow was simply buying time to reorganize its forces. . Russian troops continue their shelling at several Ukrainian cities overnight. On Wednesday, the Defense Department announced it would “resuming” offensive operations, meaning forward motion on the ground.

President Biden discusses the status of the country’s fight against COVID-19 at the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Wednesday, March 30, 2022, in Washington.
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said on Wednesday that Russian units have “repositioned” around Kiev in the past 24 hours and also moved north to Belarus, noting that the Russians themselves have said they are going to be a priority. give to eastern Ukraine in the Donbas region.

Kirby also spoke about US European Commander General Tod Walters’ testimony before Congress on 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” problems, saying he expects shipments of the tactical unmanned systems to arrive in Ukraine “relatively soon.”

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Meanwhile, UNICEF announced on Wednesday that more than two million children have fled the war in Ukraine in search of safety across the border. An additional 2.5 million children are displaced in the country as 60% of children in Ukraine have been displaced from their homes as attacks on urban areas continue.

More than 1.1 million children have arrived in Poland, and hundreds of thousands also arrive in Romania, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has documented that more than 100 children have been killed and 134 injured in the conflict, although the actual toll is expected to be much higher.

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