By Paul LeBlanc, CNN
The US will announce a new round of security assistance to Ukraine “in very short order,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday evening, as Russia’s brutal invasion continues.
Speaking to CNN+’s Chris Wallace, Psaki said Russia’s test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile would not change the White House’s posture in aiding Ukraine, vowing that the US would proceed in providing both military and security assistance.
President Joe Biden, she said, will “have more to announce on the next round of security assistance in very short order. You’ll hear more soon.”
CNN previously reported that the US is prepping another $800 million military assistance package for Ukraine, according to three senior administration officials and two sources familiar with the planning.
The Biden administration is working to get the military assistance to Ukraine as quickly as possible because it believes the war is in a critical stage and the continued US assistance could make a difference when Russia’s more aggressive assault on Eastern Ukraine ramps up, one of the administration officials said.
The more open terrain in that region favors the use of artillery and long-range systems, which is why the administration has placed a premium on getting those types of systems in quickly as the fighting moves away from Kyiv and into the Donbas region.
If approved, the latest package of $800 million would mean the US has committed approximately $3.4 billion dollars in assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began on February 24.
This would be the last presidential drawdown until Congress approves more money for weapons to Ukraine. In a presidential drawdown, the Defense Department pulls weapons and equipment from US inventories to send to Ukraine instead of purchasing new weapons from manufacturers.
For weeks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has pleaded with world leaders for more arms and equipment. In March, he spoke with the parliaments of 17 countries, as well as three international organizations. He never strayed far from his core message: Ukraine needs more weapons.
Zelensky asked Congress for new air defense systems to help defend Ukraine’s skies. He requested 1% of NATO’s tanks and planes to fight back against Russian forces. And he sought more weapons from Belgium, warning that if Ukraine loses, the European Union loses.
While his calls for heavier firepower went largely unanswered initially, a US official told CNN this month that “the envelope of what people are prepared to provide has grown considerably” in recent weeks.
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CNN’s Kylie Atwood, Alex Marquardt, Kaitlan Collins, Oren Liebermann and Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.