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Biden Promises Zelenskyy and Ukraine $500M More in Budgetary Aid

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U.S. President Joe Biden promised Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy $500 million more in aid on Wednesday during an almost-one-hour phone call, the White House confirmed.

The phone conversation between the two nation leaders went from around 11:08 a.m. to 12:03 p.m. EST. After the call, both Biden and Zelenskyy revealed what they talked about.

Biden told Zelenskyy “that the United States intends to provide the Ukrainian government with $500 million in direct budgetary aid,” as per the White House.

Fox News reported that the White House later clarified that the $500 million Biden revealed was new funding. It comes on top of the $800 million in security assistance that the White House revealed last March 16. The additional budgetary aid now brings up the total worth of assistance the U.S. has allocated for Ukraine to $2.5 billion since Russia started its invasion.

As per the White House, the U.S. president sprocket o his Ukrainian counterpart “about the ongoing work by the United States and its allies and partners to deliver military, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and to impose severe costs on Russia for its brutal aggression against Ukraine.”

“The leaders discussed how the United States is working around the clock to fulfill the main security assistance requests by Ukraine, the critical effects those weapons have had on the conflict and continued efforts by the United States with allies and partners to identify additional capabilities to help the Ukrainian military defend its country,” a readout from the White House said. “Biden also reviewed the additional sanctions and humanitarian assistance announced last week. President Zelenskyy updated President Biden on the status of Ukraine’s negotiations with Russia,” it added.

Meanwhile, following the call, Zelenskyy posted on Twitter, revealing that he “shared assessment of the situation on the battlefield and at the negotiating table” and “talked about specific defensive support, a new package of enhanced sanctions, macro-financial and humanitarian aid.”

Current Russian Activity in Ukraine

The call between the two presidents came after a meeting between Ukrainian and Russian delegations in Istanbul, Turkey on Tuesday, which is the first in-person discussion in almost three weeks.

On Tuesday, the deputy minister of defense of Russia told reporters in Moscow that their forces would withdraw from the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv and Chernihiv in an effort to establish goodwill. However, some defense experts warned that Moscow was simply stalling to get enough time to reorganize its troops. Russian troops continued shelling several Ukrainian cities overnight. On Wednesday, Russia’s defense ministry revealed that it will “resume” offensive operations.

On Wednesday, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Russian units were “repositioning” in areas around Kyiv in the last 24 hours nad have also been moving towards Belarus, noting that the Russians themselves said they would focus first on eastern Ukraine in the region of Donbas.

Kirby also discussed the testimony of U.S. European Command Commander Gen. Tod Walters that he delivered before Congress on Tuesday. In his testimony, Walters said that 100 kamikaze switchblade drones that Biden promised have been delayed. In an interview with Stuart Varney, Kirby blamed issues in “inventory” and “modality,” adding that he expects shipments of the said unmanned tactical items to arrive in Ukraine “relatively soon.”

Meanwhile, UNICEF revealed on Wednesday that over two million children have fled the ongoing war in Ukraine as they look for safety across borders. Additionally, 2.5 million more children were forced to evacuate from their homes as Russian attacks on urban areas continue.

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