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The US will provide a total of $2 billion in additional military funding for Ukraine and 18 other European countries deemed to face threats from Russia, President Biden’s administration announced Thursday.
The package will focus on long-term military support rather than the ammunition and equipment included in past aid packages, the administration says. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made the announcement Thursday morning, just minutes after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced a separate $675 million package of military equipment for Ukraine.
Austin is in Germany meeting with the Ukraine Defense Contact Group throughout Thursday. That package includes more traditional military aid, including artillery munitions, Humvees and armored ambulances, among other things.
The pair of packages put the total military aid provided by the US to Ukraine at over $15 billion since President Biden entered office.
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The packages come amid heavy fighting around Ukraine’s Zaporzhizhia nuclear power plant, which Russian forces took over in the opening weeks of their invasion.
United Nations officials say the two countries are courting disaster at the plant. An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team inspected the facility this week and found heavy damage from shelling. Both Ukraine and Russia blame the other for damage to the facility.
“The first important safety pillar that exists in any nuclear facility is not to violate its physical integrity,” IAEA General Director Rafael Grossi said Tuesday. “And unfortunately… this has happened. This happened and this continues to happen. The physical attack, wittingly or unwittingly – the hits that this facility has received and that I could personally see and assess together with my experts – is simply unacceptable.”
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Grossi went on to urge that a demilitarized zone be set up around the power station. Ukraine called for United Nations peacekeeper troops to deploy to the facility to secure such a zone.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.