President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced another $700 million in military aid to Ukraine, coming just days after he signed a Congress-passed deal worth $40 billion.
“The United States will stand with our Ukrainian partners and continue to provide Ukraine with weapons and equipment to defend itself,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House.
In the statement, Biden said he is now sending precision, advanced rocket systems after receiving assurances from Kyiv’s government that it would not fire on targets inside Russia, which would surely escalate the conflict.
“Thanks to the additional funding for Ukraine, passed with overwhelmingly bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress, the United States will be able to keep providing Ukraine with more of the weapons that they are using so effectively to repel Russian attacks,” said Biden.
The advanced weapons include High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) “with battlefield munitions,” said the president in the statement. “We will continue to lead the world in providing historic assistance to support Ukraine’s fight for freedom.”
Ukraine has been seeking Multiple Rocket Launch Systems (MLRS) such as the M270 and M142 HIMARS, which are both made by Lockheed Martin, to provide more firepower at longer range to hit Russian troop concentrations and weapons stockpiles at Russia’s rear.
Jonathan Finer, the deputy White House national security adviser, said earlier that Washington believed the HIMARS system will meet Kyiv’s needs.
“This is a defensive conflict that the Ukrainians are waging. Russian forces are on their territory,” Finer said in an interview with CNN.
However, in response, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on June 1 that Moscow suspects “the United States is purposefully and diligently adding fuel to the fire” by sending more weapons to Ukraine. When asked by reporters about how Russia might respond, he said, “Let’s not talk about worst-case scenarios.”
Peskov said that such supplies wouldn’t encourage Ukraine’s leadership to resume stalled peace talks.
Asked later if the U.S. move increased the chances of a third country becoming involved in the conflict, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, “Such risks certainly exist.” He told a news conference in Saudi Arabia, “It is a direct provocation [by Ukraine], aimed at involving the West in military action.”
Reuters contributed to this report.