Biden asks Congress for more money for Ukraine and to replenish US arsenal

Washington, May 3 (EFE).- President Joe Biden on Tuesday asked Congress to allocate more funds to be able to continue providing aid to Ukraine in the face of the ongoing Russian aggression but also to replenish the US military arsenal, which has been somewhat depleted due to weapons transfers to the besieged East European country.

Biden on Tuesday visited the Alabama factory that turns out the shoulder-fired Javelin anti-tank missiles that have been such a great help to Ukraine in defending itself against the Russian armored onslaught since Feb. 24.

It was a visit whereby the White House said the president wanted to express his gratitude to US citizens for the economic support the country is giving Ukraine, but also to personally thank the workers who are making some of the weaponry Washington is sending to Kyiv.

Biden also repeated his message to Congress to approve his request for new funding for military aid to Ukraine, saying that the aid is a “direct investment in defending freedom and democracy itself.”

“Because if you don’t stand up to dictators, history has shown us, they keep coming, they keep coming,” Biden said.

“As I said from beginning,” the president continued, “this fight is not going to be cheap, but caving to aggression would even be more costly. We either back the Ukrainian people to defend their country or we stand by as Russia continues its atrocities and aggression.”

He said that the administration needs more money to send arms directly to Ukraine but also to continue supporting the Ukrainian people in the economic and humanitarian spheres.

Biden directed his comments to the workers at the plant, who welcomed him warmly and enthusiastically applauded his remarks.

“You’re making it possible for the Ukrainian people to defend themselves without us having to risk getting in a Third World War by sending in American soldiers fighting Russian soldiers,” he said.

“Quite frankly, (the Ukrainians) are making fools of the Russian military in many instances,” he said, adding that “A big part of the reason they’ve been able to keep up fighting and to make this war a strategic failure for Russia is because the United States, together [with our] allies and partners, have had their back.”

Biden said that the US alone has contributed more than 5,500 Javelins to Ukraine.

Despite the staging of the address at the weapons plant, the White House does not expect that one event like this will raise tensions with Russia, even though it puts the president together with some of the armaments which are working best to blunt the Russian assault, and – in the process – killing countless Russian soldiers.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded to reporters’ questions during the trip, also reiterating that its aim was to allow Biden to express his gratitude to the US people for the economic support they are providing to Ukraine.

In his speech, Biden issued several calls to Congress to approve the extraordinary aid packages he is requesting for Kyiv, but also to guarantee that the weapons stockpiles the US needs are replenished, given that much of the war materiel has been coming from warehoused weapons and not from “new” production off the assembly lines.

On April 28, Biden formally asked Congress for $33 billion in additional aid to Ukraine, of which more than $20 billion will be in the form of military assistance to support Kyiv in its struggle to fend off the Russian invasion.

Although on Monday both the Pentagon and White House spokespeople insisted that the aid to Ukraine is not affecting the US ability to defend itself, they also acknowledged that an ongoing evaluation is being made of the weapons stockpiles each time that armaments are sent to Kyiv.

At midday on Tuesday, in her remarks to the media on Air Force One, Psaki noted that just a relatively small amount of money – she mentioned $250 million – remains of the budget established for the weapons shipments and thus lawmakers need to approve new allocations.

But she also said that funding is also needed to fully reconstitute US weapons stores.

In his remarks, Biden also spoke of other associated needs, including the manufacture of chips, and demanded that Congress act quickly and back his plan to push the manufacture of such items on US territory rather than in foreign countries.

EFE pamp/er/cpy/bp

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