In a renewed effort to support Ukraine’s military, President Biden announced the U.S. is providing another $800 million to help Ukrainian forces fight in the east of the Donbas region, where fighting has recently intensified. And he plans to ask Congress for more funding next week.
The new package includes heavy artillery weapons, ammunition and tactical drones, the president said Thursday morning.
“With the latest disbursement, I’ve almost exhausted the drawdown authority I have, that Congress authorized for Ukraine,” Biden said, explaining weapons need to keep flowing to Ukraine “without interruption” for the next phase of its fight against Russia.
“My hope is, my expectation is Congress would move and act quickly,” Biden said.
The Donbas region requires different kinds of weapons, Biden says
As fighting intensifies in Ukraine, the president said Russia’s attacks in Donbas require different types of weapons from the U.S. and its allies. Biden, who met with the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal ahead of his remarks, said the Donbas region is flatter and not as mountainous.
Biden also said that Putin’s claims about taking control of Mariupol are “questionable” and said there was no evidence yet that the city had completely fallen.
In addition to increased military funding, the president also announced that $500 million more is being provided to Ukraine.
“This is money the government can help use 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,” Biden said.
White House announces new program to sponsor Ukrainians fleeing war
The White House also announced a new program launching Monday that will allow Ukrainians fleeing the war to be sponsored by Ukrainian-Americans and non-governmental organizations.
The program, called Uniting for Ukraine, will allow potential sponsors to upload affidavits online that say they can financially support those coming from Ukraine. Once the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services vets the affidavits, eligible Ukrainians will have to pass a screening test before coming to the U.S. They can stay for up to two years.
“This new humanitarian parole program will complement the existing legal pathways available to Ukrainians, including immigrant visas and refugee processing,” Biden said.
“These past weeks have seen a terrible human cost of Putin’s ambition for conquest and control,” Biden said. He added that five million Ukrainians have fled the country since the war began.
Biden described the new process as “fast” and “streamlined” but the administration has not provided a timeline on how long the processing would take.
Biden pledged during a trip to Europe last month that the U.S. would accept up to 100,000 Ukrainians and others displaced by Russia’s invasion. Almost 15,000 Ukrainians have crossed into the U.S. during the past three months, mainly over the land border with Mexico. Biden says the new program would ensure that Ukrainians do not have to cross through the southern border to reach the U.S.