Washington, Mar 16 (EFE).- President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced that the US will send 100 drones to Ukraine and said that Washington will help that country acquire “longer-range” air defense systems to defend itself against bombardment by Russian forces that have invaded the country.
Biden made the announcement in a White House speech in which he ordered an additional $800 million in military and humanitarian assistance to Kyiv after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered an impassioned speech by teleconference to both chambers of the US Congress.
The US president said that this aid “will include drones,” thus demonstrating the US commitment to send its most up-to-date technology systems to the beleaguered East European nation, although he did not clarify whether those uncrewed aircraft would be capable of carrying weaponry.
“At the request of President Zelenskyy, we have identified and are helping Ukraine acquire additional longer-range anti-aircraft systems and the munitions for those systems,” the US president said.
“We’re going to give Ukraine the arms to fight and defend themselves through all the difficult days ahead,” Biden went on to say.
The White House said later in a statement that 100 uncrewed tactical air systems would be sent to Kyiv within the aid package that also includes 800 Stinger anti-air missiles, raising to more than 1,400 the number of those weapons the US has provided to Ukraine over the past year.
In addition, Biden said that his administration is helping Ukraine acquire more “longer range” anti-air systems, as Zelenskyy has requested, so that Ukraine can “fend off” the Russian warplanes and helicopters that are attacking the country.
The US will also provide Ukraine with another 9,000 anti-armor missiles, including 2,000 additional Javelin missiles, 6,000 AT-4 anti-tank rockets and 1,000 lighter weapons that can be used to destroy armor-plated vehicles.
The assistance also includes 100 grenade launchers, 5,000 rifles, 1,000 pistols, 400 machineguns and 400 shotguns, along with more than 20 million rounds of ammunition and other munitions for the firearms.
“This could be a long and difficult battle. But the American people will be steadfast in our support of the people of Ukraine in the face of Putin’s immoral, unethical attacks on civilian populations,” Biden said.
With the announcement, the president was clearly trying to respond to Zelenskyy’s request for more help against Russia’s ongoing bombardment of Ukrainian cities, albeit without granting his counterpart’s main request – which he had earlier made to Congress – of establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
Both the US and the other NATO allies have ruled out that option out of concern that it could lead to a direct military confrontation between Western Europe and Russia.
The $800 million announced by Biden on Wednesday is part of a $13.6 billion aid package for Ukraine that Congress approved last week and which the president signed on Tuesday.