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The White House on Monday said the United States will continue to provide security and economic assistance to Ukraine, even amid “empty threats” from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who warned of “unpredictable consequences.”
Russia, last week, warned the United States and NATO to stop sending Ukraine “sensitive” weapons or risk “unpredictable consequences.”
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When asked Monday what the Biden administration believes those threatened Russian “consequences” could be, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: “We’re not going to comment.”
“I’m not going to speculate on empty threats by President Putin or Russian leadership,” Psaki said Monday during the White House press briefing. “What we have done is exactly what the president said we would do from the beginning.”
Psaki said that was to provide “significant security assistance, economic assistance and support to the Ukrainian people.”
“And we’re going to continue to do exactly that,” Psaki said.
The threats from Russia came after President Biden notified Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last week that the United States is authorizing an additional $800 million in weapons, ammunition and other security assistance to the country as it fights to defend itself against Russia’s multi-front war.
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“The Ukrainian military has used the weapons we are providing to devastating effect,” Biden said in a statement Wednesday. “As Russia prepares to intensify its attack in the Donbas region, the United States will continue to provide Ukraine with the capabilities to defend itself.”
Last month, the Biden administration sent a security package with 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems; 2,000 Javelins, 1,000 light anti-armor weapons and 6,000 AT-4 anti-armor systems; 100 unmanned drones; 100 grenade launchers, 5,000 rifles, 1,000 pistols, 400 machine guns, and 400 shotguns; more than 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition and grenade launcher and mortar rounds; 25,000 sets of body armor; and 25,000 helmets. The equipment was transferred directly from the Department of Defense to the Ukrainian military.
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Security aid is continuing to flow into Ukraine unabated, with senior U.S. defense officials telling Fox News last week that “everything we’re doing in respect to Ukraine is being expedited — everything.”
The Biden administration announced $300 million in security assistance and lethal aid earlier this month, which is separate from the $800 million previously authorized in March. That additional $300 million in aid was expected to be used to buy weapons from defense contractors, an official said.
WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 08: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki calls on reporters during the daily news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on April 08, 2022 in Washington, DC. Psaki fielded questions about the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, the ongoing U.S. support for the people of Ukraine after the Russian invasion and other topics.
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
That aid came after U.S. defense officials warned that a Russian convoy appears to be reinforcing its efforts in Donbas.
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On Monday, Zelenskyy said in a statement that the battle of Donbas has begun.
“No matter how many soldiers are drawn there, we will defend ourselves,” Zelenskyy said Monday. “We will fight. We will not give up anything Ukrainian.”