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President Biden has authorized $200 million in new security assistance to Ukraine, a White House official tells Fox News, bringing Ukraine’s total defense assistance to $1.2 billion. dollars last year.
Biden’s clearance comes after a public disagreement with Poland over sending fighter jets to Ukraine. The United States has funneled weapons to Ukraine, but has been reluctant to transfer MiGs, saying Russia would view such a move as an escalation.
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Nevertheless, Moscow warned on Saturday that it considers any arms shipments to Ukraine to be “legitimate targets”.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia “has warned the United States that pumping out weapons from a number of countries they are orchestrating is not just a dangerous move, it is an action that makes these convoys legitimate targets”.
Congress this week approved $13.6 billion in additional aid, including $6.5 billion for the costs of sending troops and weapons to Eastern Europe and $6.8 billion for refugees and economic aid. Biden plans to sign the spending bill with the extra help when he receives it next week.
The war in Ukraine is in its 17th day, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying for the first time on Saturday that around 1,300 Ukrainians have been killed by Russia. Zelenskyy also claimed that 500 to 600 Russian troops surrendered on Friday.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said this week that weapons sent to Ukraine from America and other countries were “being used to great effect.”
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Kirby said a defense assessment showed that “the addition of aircraft to the Ukrainian inventory is not likely to significantly change the effectiveness of the Ukrainian Air Force relative to Russian capabilities”.
“Therefore, we believe the gain from transferring these MiG 29s is small,” Kirby said.
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Fox News’ Kyle Morris and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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