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President Biden on Thursday announced another $800 million in military aid for Ukraine, including heavy artillery and ammunition, for Ukraine as the country continues to fight to defend itself against Russia’s multi-front war.

Biden, who spoke from the East Room, said the assistance would include heavily artillery weapons, dozens of howitzers, 144,000 rounds of ammunition for those howitzers, and tactical drones.

And he added: “To modernize Teddy Roosevelt’s famous advice, sometimes we will speak softly and carry a large Javelin, because we’re sending a lot of those in as well.”

The president last week had authorized $800 million in weapons, ammunition and other security assistance. The $1.6 billion he approved this week and last is in addition to the more than $1 billion the administration had already said it was sending to Ukraine.

But the president said the funding authorized by Congress for Ukraine has almost been exhausted, and that he would therefore be sending a supplemental funding request to Capitol Hill next week. He called on Congress to pass it quickly, saying the funding would allow the U.S. to keep assistance flowing without interruption.

Biden also said the U.S. would provide $500 million in economic aid to Ukraine and announced a new program that would expedite legal immigration to the U.S. by Ukrainians who can be sponsored by a family or an NGO. And he said the U.S. would bar all “Russian-affiliated” ships from American ports.

Security aid is continuing to flow into Ukraine unabated, with senior U.S. defense officials telling Fox News that everything related to Ukraine is being “expedited.”

President Biden speaks about status of the country’s fight against COVID-19 in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Wednesday, March 30, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The aid comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin, last week, warned of “unpredictable consequences” should the United States and NATO continue sending Ukraine “sensitive weapons.”

The White House this week said it would continue to provide “significant security assistance, economic assistance and support to the Ukrainian people,” while maintaining that the president will not send U.S. troops into Ukraine.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, when asked about Putin’s warning this week, said she would not “speculate on empty threats by President Putin or Russian leadership.”

Putin this week ordered his troops not to storm the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in Mariupol, saying during a televised meeting that he believed the suggested attack “to be not necessary.” It appears Putin now intends to force a surrender by preventing supplies from entering the factory.

Early Wednesday, the commander of a Ukrainian Marine unit made an urgent last-ditch plea for Ukrainian women and children, along with wounded marines, sheltering in the Azovstal plant to be evacuated to a neutral third country as the Russian deadline to surrender Mariupol loomed.

Moscow had given the Ukrainian forces several deadlines to surrender the plant and leave without their weapons. The latest expired at 2 p.m. Moscow time (11 a.m. GMT) on April 20.

The Azovstal Iron and Steel Works was once the site of one of the largest metallurgical factories in Europe, but since the onslaught of the war more than 50 days ago, it has become a symbol of the city’s resistance.

The plant’s network of underground tunnels has become home to Mariupol residents seeking shelter from the barrage of shelling and a base for several military units.

Despite weeks of intense shelling that has resulted in the death of more than 20,000 Mariupol residents, according to Mayor Vadym Boychenko, Russian forces have been unable to take the strategically important city.

Meanwhile, Russia launched a full-scale offensive in eastern Ukraine this week after pivoting from broad-based attacks across the country, including a massive assault on the capital of Kyiv.

Only four buses with civilians managed to escape Mariupol on Wednesday after several unsuccessful attempts, Ukrainian officials said Thursday. Late Wednesday, Ukrainian

The additional aid to Ukraine also comes after President Biden last week called actions by Russian forces in Ukraine a “genocide,” saying it is becoming “clearer and clearer” that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “just trying to wipe out even the idea of being Ukrainian.”

Genocide is a type of war crime under International law.

The Senate, last month, approved a resolution that will investigate Putin for war crimes, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken said U.S. findings will be used to help international efforts to hold the Kremlin accountable.

Since the onset of the war on Feb. 24, Russian forces have hit apartment buildings, children’s and maternity hospitals, breadlines and more.

Russian forces have also been accused of using cluster munitions and vacuum bombs in the war, which violate international law when used indiscriminately against civilians.

The International Criminal Court said earlier this month that it is opening an investigation into potential war crimes by Putin related to his invasion of Ukraine.

Fox News’ Tyler O’Neil and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

 

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