WASHINGTON (Fwrd Axis) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced an additional $800 million in military support for Ukraine, totaling $1 billion in the last week alone after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke with Congress to do more.
Speaking at the White House following Zelenskyy’s address, Biden said the new aid package would include military support such as 800 anti-aircraft systems, 9,000 anti-armor systems, and 7,000 small arms as well as drones and other equipment.
“This could be a long and difficult battle. But the American people will be steadfast in our support of the people of Ukraine in the face of Putin’s immoral, unethical attacks on civilian populations,” Biden said. “We are united in our abhorrence of Putin’s depraved onslaught. And we’re going to continue to have their backs as they fight for their freedom, their democracy, their very survival.”
What was noticeably absent from Biden’s package was the no-fly zone that Zelenskyy has repeatedly called for, including in his address Wednesday.
“I have a need. I need to protect our sky. I need your decision, your help,” Zelenskyy said. “Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace.”
At a White House event later in the day, Biden said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin “is a war criminal” for his attacks on Ukraine.
It marks the first time the President has used the words publicly.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden was “speaking from his heart” about what he has seen on television about the “barbaric actions by a brutal dictator.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded to Biden’s comments according to Russian news agency Tass.
“We consider unacceptable and unforgivable such rhetoric of the head of the state, whose bombs killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world,” he said.
The White House has been facing pressure from Congress to do more to help Ukraine and several lawmakers were moved by Zelenskyy’s comments but are struggling on how to further help the country without invoking a full-scale war with Russia.
Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., said earlier Wednesday that Biden “should absolutely” call Putin a war criminal, citing Russia’s attacks on “hospitals, maternity wards, apartment buildings” in Ukraine and its military’s “direct fire on civilians.”
The news comes after the President signed a government funding bill Tuesday that totaled $13.6 billion in the military and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine, including the $1.2 billion the U.S. has already provided to Ukraine’s military and totaling nearly $300 million in humanitarian assistance.