President Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by phone on Wednesday and announced $500 million in “direct budgetary aid” for Ukraine as the US continues to funnel money and weapons into the country amid the Russian assault.
It’s not clear what the new aid will go towards, but Bloomberg reported that it could be used by Ukraine’s government for military purposes, humanitarian aid, or government services. Since Russia invaded on February 24, the US has pledged over $1 billion in military aid for Ukraine, which includes shoulder-fired anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, and armed switchblade drones.
According to a White House readout of the Biden-Zelensky call, they discussed Washington’s military assistance to Kyiv and “the critical effects those weapons have had on the conflict.” The two leaders discussed sanctions aimed at wrecking Russia’s economy that the US and its allies have imposed.
Some of the new aid for Ukraine was authorized by the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill recently signed by President Biden. Packed into the legislation was $13.6 billion to respond to the Ukraine crisis, including $6.5 billion for the Pentagon to pay for troop deployments in Eastern Europe and restock weapons being sent to Ukraine.
Biden and Zelensky also discussed the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine that took place in Turkey on Tuesday. Ukraine put forward a proposal for a potential peace deal to the Russians that included a pledge not to pursue NATO membership, although Kyiv is seeking security guarantees from the West. The White House said Zelensky updated Biden on the talks.