President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Tuesday morning to “underscore” that the United States “will never recognize” Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory and to announce a new $625 million security assistance package for Ukraine, the White House said after the call.
During the call, the president “pledged to continue supporting Ukraine as it defends itself from Russian aggression for as long as it takes,” and announced the new package which includes additional weapons and equipment including “HIMARS, artillery systems and ammunition, and armored vehicles.”
“President Biden also affirmed the continued readiness of the United States to impose severe costs on any individual, entity, or country that provides support to Russia’s purported annexation,” the White House said. “He welcomed the success of the agreement that has allowed the safe export of Ukrainian grain to global markets and the need to ensure that continues.”
Biden, during the call, also noted the “ongoing efforts of the United States to rally the world behind Ukraine’s efforts to defend its freedom and democracy, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter.”
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A Ukrainian official told Fox News after the call that Biden and Zelenskyy had a “very good conversation.”
The call comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order that would officially, in Russia’s view, annex four Ukrainian regions under the rule of the Russian Federation.
Russian news outlets reported Tuesday that Russian lawmakers unanimously approved that order that would federally absorb the Ukrainian regions of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics into the Russian Federation.
The call also comes as Zelenskyy has “accelerated” Ukraine’s application for NATO membership after Russia annexed four Ukrainian territories.
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“De facto, we have already proven compatibility with alliance standards. They are real for Ukraine – real on the battlefield and in all aspects of our interaction,” Zelenskyy said over the weekend. “We trust each other, we help each other, and we protect each other. This is the alliance.”
The presidents of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, North Macedonia and Slovakia issued a joint statement in support of Ukraine’s path to membership in the alliance on Sunday.
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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg declined to comment on Ukraine’s pathway to membership, telling NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that any decision “has to be taken by consensus” but that the alliance’s “top priority” is to support Ukraine.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said last week that the United States supports NATO’s open-door policy for countries that want to join.
“Right now, our view is that the best way for us to support Ukraine is through practical, on-the-ground support in Ukraine, and that the process in Brussels should be taken up at a different time,” Sullivan said during a press conference.
Fox News’ Caitlin McFall and Paul Best contributed to this report.