One year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the White House on Friday announced that the Pentagon would commit $2 billion more in military assistance to Ukraine’s defense against Russia.
The package includes additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) ammunition, 155 mm artillery rounds, munitions for laser-guided rocket systems, and funding for training, maintenance and sustainment of equipment. President Joe Biden reasserted his vow that "Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia."
"A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never erase the people’s love of liberty. Brutality will never grind down the will of the free," Biden added.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed U.S. commitment to support Ukraine’s infrastructure. Blinken said the State Department in coordination with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Treasury Department were offering $10 billion in assistance, including budgetary support to Ukraine and additional energy assistance to support Ukrainians suffering from Russia’s attacks.
“These funds are crucial to Ukraine as it defends itself against Russia and ensures the Ukrainian government can continue to meet the critical needs of its citizens, including health care, education and emergency services,” the top U.S. diplomat said.
The U.S. State Department also marked the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Friday by sanctioning more than 60 top Russian officials, including Cabinet ministers and regional leaders, and three enterprises that run the country's nuclear weapons program.
"We remain committed to supporting the people of Ukraine and are redoubling our efforts to promote accountability for the Kremlin's war," Blinken said.
Additionally, the U.S. announced broader global sanctions against companies for helping Moscow evade export restrictions and access key technologies. The Treasury Department said it was sanctioning Russia’s metals and mining sector, among others. The action, taken in coordination with the Group of Seven nations, seeks to punish 250 people and firms; puts financial blocks on banks, arms dealers and technology companies tied to weapons production; and goes after alleged sanctions evaders in countries from the United Arab Emirates to Switzerland.
“Our sanctions have had both short-term and long-term impact, seen acutely in Russia’s struggle to replenish its weapons and in its isolated economy,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said.
The United Nations approved a resolution Thursday demanding the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) suspended Russia's membership on Friday, saying Moscow's war in Ukraine violated the organization's principles. FATF is an intergovernmental organization set up to combat money laundering and terrorism financing by setting global standards and checking on whether countries respect them.
"This is the first time a member of FATF is suspended," FATF President Raja Kumar said at a news conference. "Russia is effectively sidelined from the organization.” Ukraine welcomed the decision but added it would continue to push FATF members to go further and blacklist Russia.
Meanwhile, China on Friday called for a cease-fire, along with the opening of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. It was part of a 12-point proposal urging the end of Western sanctions against Russia, suggesting measures to prevent attacks on civilian infrastructure, ensuring the safety of nuclear facilities and establishing corridors for the delivery of humanitarian aid.
China has sought to be seen as neutral in the conflict while at the same time refusing to criticize Russia’s invasion.
Reacting to Chinese de-escalation efforts Friday, the White House said the most important element of China's proposal for a cease-fire in Russia's war against Ukraine was the call for respecting national sovereignty.
"The first two lines in that document, really, is where it should have been left, which is respect for national sovereignty," said White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby. He declined to characterize the rest of the Chinese plan.
During a press conference Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed some elements of the Chinese proposal based on the concept of national sovereignty.
"I think it's correct to think that if there are thoughts that, in one way or another, correspond with respect for international law, to territorial integrity … let's work with China on this point," he said during a news conference in Kyiv.
Zelenskyy also said he planned to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, though he did not say when.
Earlier Friday, Zelenskyy said his nation would be victorious against Russia as the war with the neighboring country entered its second year with no apparent end in sight.
“We endured. We were not defeated. And we will do everything to gain victory this year,” Zelenskyy said in a statement released on social media. “Ukraine has inspired the world. Ukraine has united the world.”
The diplomatic moves came against the backdrop of continued fighting in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine said Thursday that it had repelled attempted Russian advances along the length of the front line of fighting in eastern and southern Ukraine.
In the most recent fighting, Moscow’s forces have made progress trying to encircle Bakhmut, with Ukrainian military spokesperson Brigadier General Oleksiy Gromov saying Moscow was trying to use its manpower advantage to exhaust Kyiv's forces.
"The enemy, despite significant losses, does not abandon attempts to surround Bakhmut," he said.
But Ukraine said Russian troops had failed to break through Ukrainian lines to the north near Kreminna and to the south at Vuhledar, where they have sustained heavy losses assaulting across open ground.
Gromov said Ukrainian forces had repelled 90 Russian attacks in the northeast and east in the last day.
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.