(FiveNation.com)- Just days after Congress approved an additional $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine, President Biden authorized another $200 million in aid to Ukraine for training and weapons.
In a memorandum to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday, the president’s handlers directed that up to $200 million for weapons and other defense items be designated for Ukraine through the Foreign Assistance Act. The funds would also go to military services, education, and training.
Congress slipped the $13.6 billion in Ukraine aid into the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package ostensibly to “fund the government” through September and avert a government shutdown.
On Wednesday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters that the administration believes the best way to support Ukraine in its war with Russia is to provide them with weapons and other defense items necessary to defeat the Russian military. This includes anti-armor and air defense.
Kirby said Russia’s advance near Kyiv has been slowed in large part due to the military assistance provided by the US and its allies.
However, Moscow has warned that any weapons deliveries into Ukraine will be considered potential targets for interdiction. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned last week that the United States and its allies “pumping weapons” into Ukraine is not just dangerous; it is also “an action that makes those convoys legitimate targets.”
Much of the military aid into Ukraine has been flown from Poland into western Ukraine. And on Friday, Russia expanded its operations by striking at airports near the western Ukrainian cities of Ivano-Frankiivsk and Lutsk.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine has claimed that in the first three weeks of the conflict, Russia lost over 12,000 troops, 1,200 armored vehicles, over 360 tanks, and more than 80 helicopters.
On Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelensky told reporters that about 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since the invasion began.
Whether the combat losses are accurate, however, is anybody’s guess. There have been plenty of false reports coming from both sides in the conflict.