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Biden commits additional aid to Ukraine as Russia declares 'success' in Mariupol

The president said the latest aid would include $800 million in heavy artillery weapons, dozens of howitzers and 144,000 rounds of ammunition, along with more tactical drones.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Thursday that the U.S. would give another $1.3 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine but that additional funding will soon be needed from Congress to maintain the flow of weapons.

Biden said the latest aid would include $800 million in heavy artillery weapons, including 72 howitzers and 144,000 rounds of ammunition, along with 121 tactical "ghost" drones. The U.S. also plans to provide another $500 million in humanitarian and economic assistance.

Biden said the U.S. would ban Russian affiliated ships from U.S. ports and is beginning a program to help Ukrainian refugees enter the United States.

Ukrainian civilians have been facing attacks by Russia’s military as it opens a long-anticipated offensive in the country’s eastern region with Russia claiming “success” Thursday in the besieged city of Mariupol. Biden said there is no evidence yet that Mariupol has "completely fallen."

"We don’t know how long this war will last, but as we approach the two-month mark, here’s what we do know, Putin has failed to achieve his grand ambitions on the battlefield," Biden said during remarks from the White House before heading to Portland, Oregon, and Seattle to promote the administration’s infrastructure plans and attend fundraisers for the Democratic Party.

With the additional aid announced Thursday, the U.S. has given $3.4 billion in military support to Ukraine since the start of the war, and $4 billion since Biden entered office. But Biden said he has nearly exhausted his drawdown authority given to him by Congress in last month's spending bill. Next week he said he will make an additional request to Congress to "keep weapons and ammunition flowing without interruption."

"We will not lessen our resolve. We’re going to continue to stand with the brave and proud people of Ukraine. We will never fail in our determination to defend freedom and oppose tyranny. It’s as simple as that," Biden said.

Biden said the Defense Department is still determining how much additional funding he will request from Congress.

The United States also continues to work with its Allies and partners to identify and provide Ukraine with additional capabilities. 

Biden met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal at the White House before his remarks.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted following the announcement that he was “grateful" to Biden and the American people for the additional support.

"This help is needed today more than ever! It saves the lives of our defenders of democracy and freedom and brings us closer to restoring peace in" Ukraine, Zelenskyy said.

The administration announced last week that it was sending an $800 million package to Ukraine that included 40,000 artillery rounds and 18 155 mm howitzers, but a U.S. official said those artillery rounds would last only a little over a week.

“We won’t always be able to advertise everything we, that our partners are doing to support Ukraine in its fight for freedom,” Biden said. “But to modernize Teddy Roosevelt’s famous advice, sometimes he will speak softly and carry a large Javelin because we’re sending a lot of those as well.” 

The administration also announced new sanctions Wednesday against Russians and Belarusians who have committed human rights abuses and companies and individuals who have sought to evade sanctions.

The latest actions come as Russia has launched a new assault in Ukraine’s east, in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. It also test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile this week, although Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Russia had notified the U.S. in advance in accordance with treaty obligations, adding that the test was routine and not deemed a threat to the U.S. or its allies.

“We’re in a critical window now of time where they’re going to set the stage for the next phase of this war,” Biden said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared “success” in Mariupol on Thursday and ordered his forces not to storm the Azovstal steel plant where the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the city is holding out.

Earlier this week, Biden told reporters he didn’t know if he would visit Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, though White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said he won't be going to the country.