U.S. announces $2 billion aid package, G-7 united

A man stands with a home made placard as Northeast Ukrainian Community groups gather at Grey’s Monument in Newcastle-upon-Tyne to mark the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2023 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Ian Forsyth | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The United States marked the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Friday by authorizing $2 billion in aid to Ukraine and ramping up sanctions and tariffs on Moscow in an effort to bolster Kyiv’s war effort.

President Joe Biden and leaders of the Group of Seven leading world economies also met virtually with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday and agreed to remain united in supporting Ukraine as Russia’s onslaught continues. The countries have taken a leading role in sending military and financial aid to Ukraine and attempting to hamper Russia’s economy to limit the strength of its assault.

The G-7 leaders reiterated their stance that Russia provoked the war and Russia can end it. Until it does, the allies, which include the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom, and non-enumerated member the European Union, agreed to back Ukraine and place sanctions on Russia.

“We call on Russia to stop its ongoing aggression and to immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw its troops from the entire internationally recognized territory of Ukraine,” read a joint statement released after the meeting.

Many key points in the statement remain unchanged from the group’s previous stances. It underscored that Russia’s attack on Ukraine was a violation of sovereignty and respect for human rights that ran afoul of the United Nations charter. Additionally, the group warned of “severe consequences” if Russia uses chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons.

In a statement, the group reminded Russia of the decision made at the G-20 meeting in Bali, where all members, including Russia, agreed that using or threatening to use nuclear weapons is “inadmissible.” Earlier this week, Russia said it would be suspending its participation in the New START Treaty, the sole remaining nuclear agreement between it and the U.S.

The G-7 leaders meeting came as the U.S. and other allies of Ukraine used the one-year mark of the war to try to strengthen Ukraine’s defense and chip away at Russia’s economy.

The weapons package announced by the Defense Department on Friday includes funding for contracts for HIMARS rockets, drones and counter-drone equipment, mine-clearing devices, 155-millimeter artillery ammunition and secure lines of communication.

The Biden administration also announced it would sanction more than 200 individuals and entities tied to the Russian war effort, including by targeting the country’s metals and mining sector. The U.S. also said it would ramp up its export controls on Russian goods and increase tariffs on Russian products such as metals and minerals.

Biden has been adamant about showing the United States’ support for Ukraine as the war drags on into its second year.

The president made a surprise visit to the country’s capital of Kyiv on Monday ahead of his trip to Warsaw, Poland, where he delivered a speech marking the anniversary. Biden reaffirmed the U.S.’ commitment to supporting Ukraine, calling the war an example of authoritarianism against democracy and decrying acts by Russian forces that Biden said constitute war crimes.

On Feb. 1, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Andriy Kostin, said regional authorities have logged more than 65,000 Russian war crimes since Moscow invaded Ukraine nearly a year ago.

Kostin said his teams have also documented more than 14,000 Ukrainian children forced into adoption in Russia.

Before leaving Poland, he met with the leaders of the Bucharest 9, the countries comprising the eastern flank of the NATO alliance, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The leaders agreed to continue support for the war-weary country.

The new U.S. aid funding announced Friday is through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. Rather than directly sending equipment, as is done in a presidential drawdown, funding through the security initiative allows for the authorization of contracts to procure the equipment.

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