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Biden emphasizes need to keep arming Ukraine in tour of Alabama weapons plant

The trip diverges from other visits to states Biden has recently made, which have mainly focused on domestic policy themes.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday made the case for increasing security assistance to Ukraine and arming its people to help it defend against the Russian invasion.

In remarks after touring an Alabama-based Lockheed Martin factory that makes weapons the U.S. has sent to Ukraine, Biden said his administration has already sent $3 billion to the country, which he said is a “direct investment in defending freedom and democracy itself.”

"Because if you don’t stand up to dictators, history has shown us, they keep coming, they keep coming," Biden said.

"As I said from beginning, this fight is not going to be cheap, but caving to aggression would even be more costly," he added. "We either back the Ukrainian people to defend their country or we stand by as Russia continues its atrocities and aggression."

Biden urged Congress to fulfill the $33 billion funding request he sent to Capitol Hill last week to provide military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. He also pressed lawmakers to pass legislation to help the semiconductor industry and boost microchip production.

The missile facility performs the final assembly of a slew of weapons, including Javelin antitank missiles. The White House said Ukrainians have “made extensive use of Javelins,” a shoulder-fired antitank missile that can hit targets up to 2.5 miles away — to effectively fend off Russia, including in their effort to protect the capital, Kyiv.

Over the last 20 years, the Alabama facility, where about 600 people work, has produced more than 50,000 Javelin missiles. It also puts the finishing touches on air-to-surface missiles and air-to-ground missiles such as the Hellfire. The White House also said that each Javelin requires more than 200 semiconductors to make, which is why Biden is calling on lawmakers to strengthen that industry.

"You're making it possible for the Ukrainian people to defend themselves without us having to risk getting in a Third World War by sending in American soldiers fighting Russian soldiers," Biden said in his remarks.

"Quite frankly, they're making fools of the Russian military in many instances," he said of the Ukrainians. "A big part of the reason they've been able to keep up fighting and to make this war a strategic failure for Russia is because the United States, together [with their] allies and partners, have had their back. The United States alone has committed more than 5,500 Javelins to Ukraine."

Biden’s trip diverges from visits he has made across the country recently, which have focused on domestic policy, such as fixing the nation’s transportation systems and infrastructure using funding from the bipartisan bill he signed into law last year.