President Joe Biden has approved $350 million for military aid to Ukraine as Ukrainian forces battle against a Russian invasion.
Biden in a memorandum published late Feb. 25 instructed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to release the aid to Ukraine, citing the Foreign Assistance Act.
Blinken said Saturday that he was acting on the instructions.
“Today, as Ukraine fights with courage and pride against Russia’s brutal and unprovoked assault, I have authorized, pursuant to a delegation by the president, an unprecedented third presidential drawdown of up to $350 million for immediate support to Ukraine’s defense,” Blinken said in a statement.
The new chunk brings the total security assistance the United States has committed in the past year to Ukraine to over $1 billion.
According to the U.S. military, the assistance will include body armor and anti-tank missiles called Javelins. “We’re going to do everything we can to get that into the hands of the Ukrainians,” a senior U.S. defense official told reporters on a call.
“It is another clear signal that the United States stands with the people of Ukraine as they defend their sovereign, courageous, and proud nation,” Blinken said.
Other countries are also sending weapons to Ukraine, including Belgium, but all have refused to send troops to help Ukraine battle against an estimated 100,000 Russian forces that have entered the neighboring country.
“Our forces are not and will not be engaged in the conflict in Ukraine,” Biden said in a recent speech about the situation, during which he outlined another layer of sanctions against Russian assets.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that Biden won’t send U.S. troops to fight in Ukraine “because he is not going to put the American public, the American people, or the United States in a position of fighting a war with Russia.”
The thousands of U.S. personnel that have been deployed to Europe are going “to defend our NATO Allies and reassure those allies in the east,” Biden added.
Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) include countries that share borders with Ukraine, including Poland and Romania. Ukraine is not a member.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke with Biden Friday, after which he said they discussed strengthening sanctions and “concrete defense assistance.” Zelensky said he was grateful for America’s “strong support” to Ukraine.
That was a turnaround from earlier in the day, when Zelensky said Ukraine had been “left alone to defend itself against Russia.”
Biden said after the call that the United States would “defend every inch of NATO territory.” He said he commended “the brave actions of the Ukrainian people who were fighting to defend their country” during the call and conveyed the various support the United States is providing.