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President Biden promised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy an additional $500 million in aid during their nearly hour-long phone conversation on Wednesday, the White House confirmed.
The call between the leaders of the United States and Ukraine lasted from approximately 11:08 a.m. to 12:03 p.m. EST, after which both sides revealed what was discussed.
Biden informed Zelenskyy “that the United States intends to provide the Ukrainian government with $500 million in direct budget support,” according to the White House.
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The White House later clarified to Fox News that the $500 million was new funding. This comes on top of the $800 million in security assistance announced by the White House on March 16, which brought the total committed to Ukraine to $1 billion in the past week alone. As of Wednesday, the United States had allocated a total of $2.5 billion in funding to Ukraine since the February 24 Russian invasion.
According to the White House, Biden spoke to Zelenskyy “about the ongoing work of the United States and its allies and partners to provide military, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and impose significant costs on Russia for its brutal aggression. against Ukraine”.
“Leaders discussed how the United States is working around the clock to respond to major requests for security assistance from Ukraine, the critical effects these weapons have had on the conflict, and the continued efforts of United States with our allies and partners to identify additional capabilities to help the Ukrainian military defend its country,” a White House statement said. “Biden also reviewed the additional sanctions and humanitarian aid announced last week. President Zelenskyy briefed President Biden on the status of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia.”
Zelenskyy tweeted that he had finished the call, revealing that he was “sharing the assessment of the situation on the battlefield and at the negotiating table” and “talking about specific defensive support, new package of reinforced sanctions, macro-financial and humanitarian aid”.
The call came after the Ukrainian and Russian delegations met in Istanbul, Turkey on Tuesday for the first in-person discussion in nearly three weeks as the situation on the ground turned into a war of attrition.
Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister told reporters in Moscow on Tuesday that Russian forces would withdraw from kyiv and Chernihiv to establish goodwill during the talks, but defense experts warned Fox News that Moscow was simply gaining ground. time to reorganize his troops. Russian forces continued their overnight shelling of several Ukrainian towns. On Wednesday, the Ministry of Defense announced that it would “resume” offensive operations, meaning forward movement in the field.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Wednesday that Russian units have “repositioned” around kyiv in the past 24 hours and also moved north into Belarus, noting that the Russians themselves have declared that they were going to give priority to eastern Ukraine in the Donbass region.
Kirby also spoke about the testimony of the commander of the United States European Command, General Tod Walters, before Congress on Tuesday, saying that some 100 kamikaze switchblade drones pledged by Biden had been delayed. In an interview with Stuart Varney, Kirby blamed “inventory” and “modality” issues, saying he expects deliveries of the tactical unmanned systems to arrive in Ukraine “relatively soon”.
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Meanwhile, UNICEF announced on Wednesday that more than two million children have fled war in Ukraine in search of safety across borders. Another 2.5 million children are internally displaced, with 60% of Ukrainian children forced from their homes as attacks on urban areas continue.
More than 1.1 million children have arrived in Poland, and hundreds of thousands have also arrived in Romania, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has documented more than 100 children killed and 134 injured during the conflict, although the true toll is expected to be much higher.