U.S. President Joe Biden on Saturday authorized an additional $200 million in weapons and other assistance for Ukraine, the White House said, as Ukrainian officials said heavy shelling by Russian forces were endangering attempted evacuations of civilians.
The decision brings total U.S. security aid provided to Ukraine to $1.2 billion since January 2021, and to $3.2 billion since 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine, according to senior administration officials.
In a memorandum to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Biden directed that up to $200 million allocated through the Foreign Assistance Act be designated for Ukraine’s defense.
The funds can be used for weapons and other defense articles from the Defense Department’s stock, as well as military education and training to help Ukraine against invading Russian forces.
The Pentagon had no immediate comment on the additional aid and what types of weapons would be included.
Ukraine has been asking for more Javelin anti-tank weapons and Stinger missiles to shoot down aircraft.
Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, on Saturday underscored Ukraine’s need for additional military supplies in an interview with the non-profit Renew Democracy Initiative.
The United States has drawn from U.S. weapons stocks to supply Ukraine repeatedly, beginning in the fall of 2021 and then again in December and February.
The last batch of weapons provided by the United States in February included anti-armor, small arms, body armor and various munitions in support of Ukraine’s front-line defenders, according to the Pentagon, as well as anti-aircraft systems.
On Thursday night the U.S. Congress approved $13.6 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine as part of a $1.5 trillion measure to fund the U.S. government through September.