The First Two Months of the War in Ukraine: U.S. Arms Sales to Ukraine and Russia’s Response to Terrorism
Mr. Zlatev and his new business partner, a local osteopath, took their first crack at international arms dealing. The deal relied on layers of middlemen and transit across seven countries according to documents and records obtained by The New York Times. And it exists in a legal gray area, designed to skirt the arms-export rules of other countries.
“Time is of the essence,” the pair recently wrote to Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense. They outlined a plan to sell American, Bulgarian and Bosnian arms to Ukraine.
Since the Russian invasion in February, the Biden administration has quietly fast-tracked hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of private arms sales to Ukraine, slashing a weekslong approval process to a matter of hours. In just the first four months of the year — the latest data available — the State Department authorized more than $300 million in private deals to Ukraine, government documents show. The department authorized less than $15 million worth of such sales to Ukraine during all of the 2021 fiscal year.
Biden invited Zelensky to Washington this week because he believes the war in Ukraine is entering a “new phase,” officials said ahead of the visit. As winter sets in and Russia continues targeting civilian infrastructure, it seemed ideal for Zelensky to make a dramatic public appeal for continued international support.
Vice President Biden told Republicans in November that he didn’t believe the aid toUkraine would be stopped in a Republican Congress.
Asked whether the attacks of the past 24 hours would change the calculus on what the US would consider offering Ukraine, a senior administration official said they had no announcements to make on that front, but that the US will continue to help provide Ukraine with short- and long-range air defense systems, as it has in the past.
The US had not yet delivered NASAMS toUkraine as of late September. At that time, he was brigadier. The general said two of the six systems would be delivered in the next two months.
Russia launched a total of 84 cruise missiles against targets across Ukraine on Monday, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a Facebook post.
Putin said the strikes were a response to what he described as terrorism by Ukrainians. Specifically, he referred to Saturday’s explosion on the Kerch Bridge linking Russia and Crimea – which he blamed on Ukraine’s “special services” – and a list of other alleged “crimes.”
“We continue to monitor his nuclear capabilities, Kate, best we can. I can assure you that we do not see any evidence of Mr. Putin using nuclear or mass destruction weapons. And we’ve seen nothing, Kate, that would give us cause to change our own deterrent posture,” Kirby said.
Zelensky wouldn’t negotiate with the country attacking Ukraine because he didn’t think they would agree to concessions, and Putin didn’t seem to have much willingness to enter serious discussions. The US wanted to shift the messaging strategy to make sure international support continues to help it succeed in the battlefield.
John Kirby said that there will be more support packages for Ukraine in the near future.
Kirby told CNN that it was clear that he was feeling the pressure at home and abroad, but only he could tell.
Biden warned last week of the threat ofArmageddon due to the nuclear threats by Putin. The US officials said that the comment was not based on any new intel or changes in Russia’s nuclear posture.
How Mr. Musk and the U.S. are concerned about the crisis in Ukraine, as discussed by Marta Makarova on social media
KYIV, Ukraine — Sitting on a park bench by a tram stop in Kontraktova Square, Marta Makarova, a 21-year-old budding social media influencer, takes a break from talking with two friends about Instagram to talk instead about the war. The safety of the group depends on U.S. support.
The upcoming U.S. elections and controversial comments made by Mr. Musk are the top issues discussed on his social media channels.
The risks of problems have sparked concern on Capitol Hill. Republican and Democratic supporters of Ukraine are worried about maintaining public support for U.S. aid.
Kevin McCarthy, Speaker of the House, warned that aid to Ukraine cannot be a blank check when the United States is in such dire financial straits.
“I think people are gonna be sitting in a recession and they’re not going to write a blank check to Ukraine,” he told Punchbowl News in an interview published Tuesday.
In October, Kevin McCarthy, who was the House minority leader at the time, stated that Republicans might pull funds from Ukraine if they assumed control of the House in a few years. Still, after making those comments the GOP leader worked behind the scenes to reassure national security leaders in his conference that he wasn’t planning to abandon Ukraine aid and was just calling for greater oversight of any federal dollars.
A line of Ukrainian politicians, activists — even soldiers — have been traveling to Washington in advance of the midterms to keep up relations and lobby for more aid.
Yevheniia Kravka is a member of the parliament with the Servant of the People party. She has gone to Washington before to meet with administration and congressional leaders, as well as Democratic and Republican leaders.
But Kniazhytskyi worries about the influence of a vocal group of Republicans, many aligned with former President Donald Trump, as well as conservative TV personalities who have been speaking out against the billions of dollars going to Ukraine.
Over roughly the same time, the percentage of Americans who said they were extremely or very concerned about Ukraine’s defeat fell from 55% in May to 38% in September.
So far, there have not been signs that U.S. aid to Ukraine has ended up in the wrong hands. The war is not over. Ukraine wants more support to fight Russia. And the long and expensive work of rebuilding after the conflict has yet to begin.
Burkovskiy laments how Ukraine got sucked into Trump’s first impeachment, after Zelenskyy came close to submitting to Trump’s demand to announce an investigation into the family of then-candidate Joe Biden.
Let’s say that a member of the House is talking about why people in Eastern Europe are spending more money than they earn, and people in eastern Europe hear this.
The balance of power in Washington makes it impossible for Republicans to change the direction of the U.S. support for the war. And he emphasizes that Ukraine has much bigger problems than U.S. politics.
NPR’s State of Ukraine: Overcoming the Ukrainian Counteroffensive with the U.S. During Ukraine’s First Battle
There is anticipation of a battle for Kherson, which is located in southern Ukraine. The officials have been working with the Ukrainians to prepare for a counteroffensive.
Also Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will host Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. Before it can join NATO, Sweden must meet certain conditions.
The UN General Assembly is scheduled to discuss a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Ukraine is expected to be on the agenda.
Russia rejoined a U.N.-brokered deal to safely export grain and other agricultural goods from Ukraine, on Nov. 2. It was just a few days before Moscow suspended its part in the deal, after it said that another country had attacked its ships in the Black Sea.
The US has supplied armored vehicles to Ukraine in the past. The US spent money to repair Soviet-era T-72 tanks.
Iran denied supplying drones to Russia again on Nov. 5, a month after acknowledging for the first time that it had given some drones to Russia. Zelenskyy pointed out that Ukrainian forces shoot down at least 10 Iranian drones every day.
Here you can read past recaps. You can find more of NPR’s coverage here. Listen to and subscribe to NPR’s State ofUkraine for updates throughout the day.
Two administration officials said Milley’s position was not backed by the national security team of the president, but that they didn’t believe it was time to push for talks over Ukranian.
The result is a debate within the administration over whether the recent gains on the battlefield by the Ukrainians should restart the effort to negotiate an end to the fighting, according to officials.
Recent days have seen a push for peace by Milley, as Ukraine takes back the city of Kherson. In comments at the Economic Club of New York on Wednesday, Milley praised the Ukrainian army for fighting Russia to a stalemate, but said that an outright military victory is out of reach.
Administration officials were unsurprised by the comments, but also worried about the administration looking divided in the eyes of the Kremlin.
The internal debate comes as senior US officials – including Sullivan – have in recent weeks been urging Ukraine to signal that it is still open to diplomatic discussions with Russia, even after Zelensky signed a decree in early October ruling out negotiations with Putin.
The officials said that it was clear to them that Milley didn’t want to urge a capitulation, but rather wanted to make sure that the war would not drag on longer and cause more death and destruction.
The view is not widely held within the administration. One official explained that the State Department is on the opposite side of the pole from Milley. That dynamic has led to a situation where military brass push diplomacy more than US diplomats.
The US military has dug deep into US weapons stockpiles to support the Ukrainians and is currently scoured the globe for supplies to support the country going into winter, raising concerns about how long this war can last, officials said.
The US intends to buy 100,000 rounds of artillery ammunition from South Korean arms manufacturers to provide to Ukraine, a US official said, part of a broader effort to find available weaponry for the high-intensity battles unfolding in Ukraine. As part of the deal, the US will purchase 100,000 rounds of 155mm howitzer ammunition, which will then be transferred to Ukraine through the US.
Towards a Diplomatic Solution of the Cold War: The Case for an Arms-Against-Arms Combat in the Middle East
State Department spokesperson Ned Price would not say Thursday whether the State Department agrees with Milley’s position. Instead, Price deflected to a position that US officials have often made in recent months: the US sides with Zelensky who has said that a diplomatic solution is needed.
It’s on Moscow to show that it is ready to negotiate and meet what the world knows about our Ukrainian partners, and that they are willing to sit down and engage in good faith.
When President Biden marks the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this week with a speech in Warsaw, he is expected to underscore that the United States is going to back Ukraine as long as it takes.
The first deliverables are the Patriot missile systems. They have been described as the US’s “gold standard” of air defense. NATO preciously guards them, and they require the personnel who operate them – almost 100 in a battalion for each weapon – to be properly trained.
More precision weapons are vital: they ensure Ukraine hits its targets, and not any civilians remaining nearby. Russia appears to burn through hundreds or thousands of shells in its bombarding of the areas it wants to capture.
These two headline packages could make a difference in the war. Russia’s most potent threat now is the constant bombardment of energy infrastructure. It is making winter colder and unbearable for some, plunging cities into darkness of up 12 hours a day and sometimes longer, in the hope of sapping high Ukrainian morale.
But Moscow is struggling to equip and rally its conventional forces, and, with the exception of its nuclear forces, appears to be running out of new cards to play. The use of nuclear force is less likely because of the statements China and India have made against it.
Western analysts have noted Russia has grumbled consistently about these deliveries, but been relatively muted in its practical response to the crossing of what, as recently as January, might have been considered “red lines.”
Vladimir Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, meets Vladimir Putin in Washington, DC, on Wednesday for a three-day trip to end the Ukrainian war
This is not easy. Kevin McCarthy said the Biden administration cannot expect a “blank cheque” from the new House of Representatives.
The remnants of the Trump First elements in the party think that US aid to eastern Europe is not enough.
Realistically, the bill for the slow defeat of Russia in this dark and lengthy conflict is relatively light for Washington, given its near trillion-dollar annual defense budget.
He is an inspiring and unexpected president that epitomizes how Putin has turned ordinary Ukrainians into wartime heroes.
Zelensky’s address strengthened both Democrats and Republicans as they understand what is at stake in the fight against Russia and Iran, she said.
It was connected to the struggle of the Ukrainian people, to the feelings of warmth that we want to give our families at Christmas, and to the fact that all the families in Ukraine will be in the cold.
She hopes they will send more than one. She said that there had been some reluctance in the past by the US and NATO to provide advanced equipment, but that they have seen how effective the Ukrainian military is.
Clinton, who previously met Russian President Vladimir Putin as US secretary of state, said the leader was “probably impossible to actually predict,” as the war turns in Ukraine’s favor and his popularity fades at home.
Clinton thinks that Putin is considering how to get more bodies into the fight with the Ukranians.
Three hundred days after Russia invaded his country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky went to Washington, DC, for talks on the next 300 days.
Zelensky wore a drab green sweatshirt, while Biden wore a blue-and-yellow striped tie, on the historic visit.
Yet as Zelensky departed Washington for a lengthy and similarly risky return trip to Ukraine, it wasn’t clear that a pathway to ending the conflict was any clearer.
Both men made clear at the end of their talks that the war is entering a new phase. Fears of a stalemate are growing as Russia sends more troops to the front and takes a harsher air campaign against civilians.
But on Wednesday, Zelensky used bellicose rhetoric that suggested such a peace was not close, saying the road to ending the war would not involve making concessions to Russia.
When it comes to peace, he said he doesn’t see any road to peace that involves relinquishing territory or sovereignty.
Later, in his address to Congress, Zelensky said he’d presented a 10-point peace formula to Biden – though US officials said afterward it was the same plan he offered to world leaders at the Group of 20 summit last month.
Biden said it was up to Zelensky to decide how he wants the war to end.
Zelensky peppered his address to lawmakers with references to American history, from the critical Battle of Saratoga during the American Revolutionary War to the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.
He planned to give his address in English, so he did it. Even his attire – the now-familiar Army green shirt, cargo pants and boots – seemed designed to remind his audience they were in the presence of a wartime leader.
Zelensky’s Importance of Power Intermittents: How President Biden and the United States Respond to a Cold War
Over the course of the conflict, Zelensky has demonstrated an acute ability to appeal to his audience, be they national legislatures or the audience of the Grammys.
On Wednesday, he tried to evoke Americans’ reaction to their own country’s suffering by suggesting that Russia could interrupt its power supply.
“In two days we will celebrate Christmas. Maybe candlelit. He said that there will not be electricity, but that it is more romantic than that.
He was aware that many people in the US, including some Republicans in Congress, had wondered why billions of US dollars are needed for a conflict thousands of miles away. He sought to make the cause about more than his own homeland.
It isn’t hard to see the tensions beneath the surface. Zelensky has consistently agitated for additional US support, despite the tens of billions of dollars in military assistance that Biden has directed to his country.
Biden or his team have not always liked that. As he has with other foreign leaders, Biden appeared to be hoping to translate physical proximity into better Understanding of his counterpart.
It is all about looking someone in the eye. I want to say that it is sincerely. He said there is no substitute for staring at a friend or foe while sitting down face to face.
The Impetus for American-Israel Military Assistance to Ukraine: When the U.S. Senate and Congress meet in Kiev on Thursday to discuss the Status of the Cold War
The Chancellor of Germany received a call from Biden on Thursday. Germany will send new fighting vehicles, as well as a missile battery for protection against Russian air attacks.
The Bradley fighting vehicle, which moves on tracks rather than wheels, can hold around 10 troops and is used to transport personnel into battle. The US and Germany are going to give Ukrainian forces training on the vehicles being given to them.
Those systems had been at the top of Zelensky’s wish list because it will allow his military to target Russian missiles flying at a higher altitude than they were able to target previously.
The Biden administration’s largest reduction in US military assistance to Ukraine was announced on Friday, but there were worries that the Republicans in Washington would block future aid as they gained power.
The additional $907 million of foreign military financing will be provided by the administration and Congress.
One diplomat told CNN they believe the impasse “definitely” signals trouble for Ukraine aid moving forward, as many of those who have fought McCarthy’s speakership have in the past spoken out against additional assistance for Kyiv.
Several Republican members who switched their votes to support McCarthy on Friday said they are encouraged by a framework of an agreement, but provided no specifics about the deal and said talks are ongoing.
That number was even higher than the president wanted, because Democrats worried that a GOP-led House wouldn’t give them enough funding. In other ways, that number was an insurance policy against Republican resistance and the White House believed that it would last US support for several months.
Rules changes to the budgetary process could affect the Congress’ ability to pass new aid in September, and certain conservatives have promised to oppose any new Ukraine funding.
The diplomat said that the Freedom Caucus has just demonstrated their clout and that this is a sign of legislative paralysis.
Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the recent drawdown on Ukrainian aid and support with a view on cuts to aid
Others noted they were watching closely to see the kinds of maneuvers McCarthy would make to secure the role, which could potentially include cuts to aid.
The diplomat said that they were worried about McCarthy giving policy concessions that would affect the US role in the world.
A third diplomat expressed concerns concessions like crucial committee assignments, such as the House Rules Committee, could be given to lawmakers who have advocated against more aid to Ukraine, which could create immense hurdles for passing additional assistance legislation.
White House officials were skeptical about the aid drying up completely. They have pointed out Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell is among the most ardent supporters of Ukraine, and note McCarthy has pledged continued support for Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday welcomed the latest drawdown, saying it was an “awesome Christmas present for Ukraine!” Lawmakers in the Ukranian parliament told CNN that they are not worried that the future of assistance is at risk because of past support for the country.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a surprise Europe tour, meeting leaders in London, Paris and Brussels, and reiterating his call for allies to send fighter jets to Ukraine.
The Institute for the Study of War said that the Russian forces attacked the Ukrainians in Luhansk, then made marginal advances towards the Ukrainians. Analysts at the Atlantic Council also said Russian forces are pushing to encircle Bakhmut, a city in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
U.S.-Measured F-16 Fighters in the War of Ukraine: Importance of the War for Moscow and Kyiv
Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova attended President Biden’s State of the Union speech, for the second year in a row, but the war in Ukraine received far less attention in the address this time.
The commitment of tanks and armored fighting vehicles that Ukrainian officials won in January prompted them to turn to fighter planes as the next item on their wish list. President Biden has said he is opposed to sending U.S.-made F-16 jets to Ukraine, and other allies have also appeared reluctant. Last week, Britain said that it would start training Ukranian pilots on Western jets.
A spokesman for the armed forces, Col. Serhiy Cherevaty, said on Ukrainian television that soldiers need to keep their focus on building defensive lines. He said that part of the reason for the order barring civilians, including aid workers, from entering was to keep military operations secret.
As a prize, Bakhmut offers little in the way of strategic value for either Moscow or Kyiv. The amount of blood spilled to claim it is more important than anything else.
“Even if Bakhmut were to fall, it would not have a strategic impact on the overall war,” said the National Security Council spokesman, John Kirby. “I would go so far as to say it won’t even have necessarily a strategic impact on the fighting in that part of the country.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Biden, Defense Secretary James Comet, and Ukrainian Sensitivitiy to the War on Crime
The Western officials dodged questions about whether the campaign would succeed in securing more powerful weapons for use against Russia.
Asked in Brussels on Tuesday whether fighter jets had been discussed, Mr. Austin, the American defense secretary, said, “I don’t have any announcement to make today.”
Only three officials as well one reporter and one photographer traveled with Biden. After Biden’s arrival in Ukraine, a small group of reporters joined him.
Biden had shrouded his visit to Kyiv in secret because of the security concerns. Reporters aboard Air Force One weren’t allowed to take their devices with them because the plane was under cover of darkness.
Ukraine is an active war zone where the US military has no control, making Monday’s visit different from previous presidential trips to Iraq or Afghanistan. White House officials had repeatedly ruled out a visit earlier in the year.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan is one of the people on Biden’s delegation, along with a deputy chief of staff, and a personal aide.
Yet security precautions had prevented Biden from making a similar trip. When he visited Poland in April last year, the White House did not even explore the potential for a trip across the border, even though Biden said he had voiced interest.
Biden has been itching to visit Ukraine for months, particularly after several of his counterparts in Europe all endured lengthy train journeys to meet with Zelensky in Kyiv. The countries of Canada, France, Germany, and Britain have made visits to the country to show their support.
Biden’s wife paid a surprise visit to a small city in the far southwest of Ukraine on Mother’s Day last year. The school that was converted into temporary housing for displaced Ukrainians was where she met with Zelenska.
With the war approaching its one-year mark on February 24th, Biden is hoping to demonstrate to the world his commitment to Ukraine even as it remains unclear how much longer US and western resolve can last.
Zelensky might accept some parameters in a peace settlement, but the US has refused to say what a settlement may look like beyond saying that it is up to Zelensky to decide.
The New Chinese Consultations: The Challenge for the United States and Russia in the End of the Cold War, as pointed out by CMB Chief A.M. Wang
American officials told CNN on Saturday the US has recently begun seeing “disturbing” trends and there are signs that Beijing wants to “creep up to the line” of providing lethal military aid to Moscow without getting caught.
The officials would not describe in detail what intelligence the US has seen suggesting a recent shift in China’s posture, but said US officials have been concerned enough that they have shared the intelligence with allies and partners at the Munich Security Conference over the last several days.
Wang is expected to travel to Moscow this week in his new position as top adviser to Chinese leader. It will be the first time a Chinese official has visited Moscow since the invasion of Ukraine.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that Wang’s visit will provide an opportunity for China and Russia to continue to develop their strategic partnership and “exchange views” on “international and regional hotspot issues of shared interest”.
But after Congress appropriated more than $112 billion in military and economic support in the space of a single year — and with no signs of an end to the conflict — polls show a growing number of Americans feel the United States is giving too much.
Mark Cancian is an expert in military procurement who’s worked at both the Pentagon and Office of Management and Budget. “Either weapons show up in the Middle East, someplace where they’re not supposed to be, or some oligarch is discovered to have siphoned funds off and is sailing around the Mediterranean in his yacht, paid for by American taxpayers.”
“When you spend that much money that fast, there’s bound to be problems, there’s bound to be leakage,” said John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
Sopko reports failure after failure with aid for Afghanistan and warns that a country cannot absorb so much aid before it spills into the illegal economy.
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The sponge is put on the counter and filled with water. Drip, drip, drip. Sopko claimed that it holds the water. “Then all of a sudden it reaches a certain point, and then all the water starts spreading out from that sponge.”
At the start of the conflict, some 60% of Americans backed sending weapons to Ukraine, according to polling from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. That’s dropped by over 50%.
The most recent congressional funding package built in more funding for oversight of the aid, and Republican leaders have asked for more regular updates on checks and balances on the spending.
One report, released last month, found that there’s a “significant risk of misuse and diversion given the volume and speed of assistance” during the war. It also cites a classified Pentagon report that raised concerns that the Defense Department isn’t able to fully monitor the weapons, in part because U.S. troops are not allowed in the country.
But so far, there has been no credible evidence of wide-scale problems, said Jessica Lewis, assistant secretary for the State Department’s bureau of political-military affairs.
“We should all be concerned about the possibility of a weapon ending up in the wrong hands outside of Ukraine,” Lewis said. “That is why we have to put all of these things in place.”
She said that inspectors from the U.S. have been to Ukraine, and the defense staff at the Kyiv embassy has been increased. The Ukrainian government has signed a security agreement that protects weapons from being transfered to third parties.
“That is our responsibility to our own national security,” she said. “It’s our responsibility to our war fighters, and it’s our responsibility to the American public to make sure when we transfer a weapon, we are doing so responsibly.”
The oversight of Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union and be banned from joining the NATO alliance: A lesson learned from Afghanistan, when Ukraine didn’t join NATO
The oversight reviews are being done by many administration offices. John Sopko said he is concerned that there’s a lack of coordination.
He said there should be a dedicated team for the work and he worries that the U.S. government is waiting too long to set that up. That’s a lesson that should have been learned from Afghanistan, he said, where his office would have been more effective had it been established much earlier in the conflict.
Sopko is particularly worried about economic aid. The U.S. is sending about $50 billion to help prop up the Kyiv government, money that helps pay the salaries of officials, police officers and teachers.
“That was one of the biggest concerns we had in Afghanistan,” he said. The salaries we were paying weren’t going to the people we were supposed to be. So we had ghost civil servants, ghost people in the military, ghost teachers or whatever.”
Last year, Ukraine was ranked 116 out of 180 countries for corruption by Transparency International. The issue has scuttled the country’s bid to join the European Union and kept it out of NATO.
Biden argued about corruption just months before the war began, explaining that it was the reason why Ukraine couldn’t join the NATO alliance.
“The fact is, they still have to clean up corruption,” Biden said. The fact is, they need to meet other criteria to get into the plan. And so school’s out on that question.”
U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Volodymr Zelenskyy, says Ukraine will remain a part of the national security system
President Volodymr Zelenskyy, who was elected to office on a corruption platform, submitted a bill to close the Kyiv Administrative District Court in early 2021.
Steven Pifer, a Clinton-era US ambassador to the Ukraine said that corruption can be pretty resilient in that country. “It took some time… It was shut down after a long time. And that was a good thing for Ukraine’s justice system.”
Zelenskyy fired some of its officials in a corruption scandal last month. Zelensky said in a video that he wants people to understand that we won’t return to the lifestyles bureaucrats had prior to the scandal.
Republicans and Democrats support the war effort in Washington, and many of them are calling for more oversight. They don’t want to give political leverage to those that want to cut assistance completely.
The congressman said that he thinks the Democrats should continue to work with the national security Republicans and not allow domestic politics to prevent them from staying united behind Ukraine.
It’s also in Biden’s political interests to work with those Republicans. He doesn’t want theUkraine spending scandal to become an issue in the election as he prepares to run for a second term.
Russian forces made a new push to take control of the eastern part of Ukraine, where Russia illegally annexed last year.
Biden said that he thought it was vital for the US to support the Ukrainians in the war.