U.S. President Joe Biden announced Thursday a new military aid package for Ukraine worth hundreds of millions of dollars as the Eastern European country fights to recapture territory from invading Russian forces.
Welcoming Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the White House, Biden said it's "critical" to support Ukraine's freedom as the 19-month war rages on.
"With the days beginning to turn colder, Russia once more looks to use winter as a weapon against people in Ukraine," Biden said. "As I discussed with President Zelenskyy, the people Ukraine are steeled for this struggle ahead. And the United States is going to continue to stand with you."
Today, I approved the next tranche of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine including more artillery, more ammunition, more anti-tank weapons and next week, the first US Abrams tanks will be delivered in Ukraine," Biden continued. "We also focused focused on strengthening Ukrainian air defense capabilities to protect the critical infrastructure provides heat and light during the coldest and darkest days of the year."
The announcement coincided with Zelenskyy's whirlwind, one-day visit to Washington, D.C., where also met with privately with both Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill and visited the Pentagon to speak with military leaders.
The Ukrainian president thanked Biden for the "very powerful" assistance package, telling him: "It has exactly what our soldiers need now."
It was Zelenskyy's second trip to the U.S. capital since Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine in February 2022.
Zelenskyy told Biden he found "trust and support" from Congress, which is in the midst of a spending battle that includes $24 billion in aid for Ukraine requested by Biden.
“Today I’m in Washington to strengthen our relationship to defend Ukraine, our children, our families, our homes, freedom and democracy in the world,” Zelenskyy said as they met in the Oval . “And I started my day in the U.S. Congress to thank its members and to the people of America for all the big, huge support. I felt trust between us and it allowed us to have frank and constructive dialogue, Mr. President. And this trust and support I’ve found from both chambers and those bodies. I'm grateful for this."
The package includes hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of equipment previously authorized by Congress. Biden said it includes "steady deliveries" of Hawk air defense batteries each month through the winter, as well as launchers and interceptors to help protect Ukraine's hospitals, schools and power plants.
"That will help save Ukrainian lives," Biden said.
However, one weapons system that Ukraine still wants from the United States -- ATACMS long-range missiles -- will not be part of the new security assistance package.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed earlier Thursday ATACMS were not in the package, but said they weren't being taken off the table entirely.
"The president is constantly speaking both to his own military and to his counterparts in Europe and to the Ukrainians themselves about what is needed on the battlefield at any given phase of the war, and then what the United States can provide, while also ensuring that we are able to provide for our own deferred -- deterrence and defense needs," Sullivan told reporters. "As he's weighed all that up to date, he has determined that he would not provide ATACMS, but he has also not taken it off the table in the future."
Biden has called on leaders at home and around the world to stand strong with Ukraine, as a hard-right faction of Republicans question the continued flow of American dollars and military aid overseas.