Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the White House for pledging an additional $500 million in direct aid, but said he was open with U.S. President Biden about Ukraine needing more to resist the Russian invasion.
“If we really are fighting for freedom and in defense of democracy together, then we have a right to demand help in this difficult turning point,” Zelenskyy said in his nighttime video address to the nation Wednesday. “Tanks, aircraft, artillery systems. Freedom should be armed no worse than tyranny.”
Prior to Wednesday’s announcement of $500 million in aid, the Biden administration had sent Ukraine about $2 billion in humanitarian and security assistance since the start of the war last month.
That’s all part of the $13.6 billion that Congress approved earlier this month for Ukraine as part of a broader spending bill.
Zelenskyy said the negotiations with Russia were continuing but for now, they were only “words without specifics.”
About the supposed withdrawal of Russian forces from Kyiv and Chernihiv, Zelenskyy said: “We know that this is not a withdrawal but the consequences of being driven out. But we also are seeing that Russia is now concentrating its forces for new strikes on Donbas and we are preparing for this.”
Zelenskyy has also pressed for fighter jets, but the White House scuttled a plan to transfer them to Ukraine by way of Poland, saying it feared Russia would take that as evidence of the U.S. directly engaging in the fight over Ukraine soil and perhaps trigger a dangerous expansion of the war.
The Ukraine president has also pressed the U.S. and Europe to close the air over Ukraine to Russian planes, but critics have cautioned that that, too, could provoke a deadly expansion of hostilities to other countries.
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