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Latest in Ukraine: US Providing $2.6 Billion More in Aid for Ukraine

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left and European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell give statements ahead of an EU-US Energy Council Ministerial Meeting in Brussels, April 4, 2023.

New developments:

  • U.S. is providing $500 million in immediate assistance from Pentagon stocks using the presidential drawdown authority and $2.1 billion in future aid using Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) funds.
  • Ukraine’s military said Russia attacked with 17 Iranian-made drones overnight, with Ukrainian forces destroying 14 of them. Ukraine said 13 of the destroyed drones were over the Odesa region.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday visited the village of Yahidne in north Ukraine on the anniversary of its liberation and commemorated the brutal captivity of nearly 400 civilians by Russian invaders in a school basement for 27 days before they were freed.
  • The U.S. government is pushing hard for the release of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who is being detained in Russia on charges of espionage, the White House said Monday.
  • International Atomic Energy Agency Chief Rafael Grossi will meet with a Russian delegation Wednesday in Moscow to discuss the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station.

The U.S. is providing Ukraine with a $2.6 billion military aid package that includes munitions for Patriot air defense systems and three surveillance radars.

The package also includes hundreds of thousands of ammunition rounds along with 155 mm and 105 mm artillery rounds, which Ukrainian forces have continued to quickly burn through as they counter Russia’s illegal invasion.

A senior defense official, who spoke to reporters Tuesday on the condition of anonymity, said new equipment in the package such as nine 30 mm gun trucks could “detect and intercept drones such as the Iranian-built Shahed[s]” that Moscow is currently using in the fight.

About $500 million of the aid package announced Tuesday will provide ammunition and equipment from U.S. military stockpiles using the presidential drawdown authority. Another $2.1 billion will buy an array of munitions and weapons for Ukraine in the future.

The U.S. has now pledged more than $30 billion worth of security assistance to Ukraine since the invasion. When viewed as a percentage of donor country GDP, the U.S. ranks about 10th in its security donations to Kyiv.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba walk during the NATO foreign ministers' meeting at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Apr. 4, 2023.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba walk during the NATO foreign ministers' meeting at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Apr. 4, 2023.

Meanwhile, European Union foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell said Tuesday that European leaders are sending a message to China that it cannot be militarily supporting Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

Speaking in Brussels where NATO foreign ministers are meeting, and ahead of his own visit next week to China, Borrell said the EU has been “clear with China that its position on Russia’s atrocities and war crimes will determine the quality of our relations with Beijing.”

He said other EU leaders visiting China, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron bring the same message.

Borrell addressed reporters alongside U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken who said there would be a focus on further reducing Europe’s dependance on Russian energy supplies and on increasing clean energy production.

Both diplomats were due to take part in a NATO foreign ministers meeting as the alliance formally welcomes Finland as a new member.

The raising of Finland’s flag at NATO’s headquarters comes less than a year after the country submitted its application in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The ceremony falls on NATO’s own birthday, the 74th anniversary of the signing of its founding Washington Treaty on April 4, 1949.

Russia warned Monday that it would bolster forces near Finland if NATO sent any additional troops or equipment to what will be its 31st member country.

NATO has said that it has no immediate intention to step up its presence in Finland. Some members have deployed troops there for war games over the past year.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters Tuesday that over the course of many years, Russia has built up its military in the north and that President Vladimir Putin has shown he is willing to use military force against his neighbors. Stoltenberg said Finland’s joining NATO is the result of Putin's "war of aggression against Ukraine."

Describing the defensive nature of the NATO alliance, Stoltenberg said, "The purpose of NATO's deterrence and defense is not to provoke the conflict, it's to prevent the conflict."

Sweden applied to join NATO alongside Finland but has seen its bid slowed by objections from Turkey, which says Sweden has been too lenient toward groups that Turkey considers terrorists.

"It is a great day to have Finland as a member, but we will ensure that also Sweden will become a full member," Stoltenberg said Tuesday.

Some material in this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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