President Biden plans to announce an additional $800 million in security assistance to Ukraine on Wednesday, according to White House officials, only hours after President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine is scheduled to deliver a virtual address to Congress.
Mr. Biden will detail the new military aid in the late morning, shortly after Mr. Zelensky delivers a list of military equipment and other aid that he believes is necessary to stave off the Russian invasion, and particularly to hold on to the capital, Kyiv. High on the list is more antiaircraft batteries, enabling them to harass — and shoot down — Russian cargo planes and fighter jets arriving around the embattled city.
Besides asking for weapons and warplanes, Mr. Zelensky has pleaded with NATO to enforce a no-fly zone, a move the allies have refused, because it would put them in direct combat with Russian military forces. To enforce the no-fly zone, American forces would have to take out Russian air defenses — inside Russia — and Mr. Biden has rejected the move as unnecessary. Russia has warned it would consider a no-fly zone an act of war.
The administration last week announced $200 million in security aid for Ukraine. In February, the Biden administration approved a $350 million arms package to Ukraine. Altogether, the Biden administration has authorized $1.2 billion in weapons for Ukraine in the past year, officials said.
Those weapons have included at least 600 Stinger antiaircraft missiles and about 2,600 Javelin antitank missiles, according to a senior White House official. But what Ukraine needs are more sophisticated antimissile systems.
So far the Americans have also provided Ukraine five Mi-17 helicopters, three patrol boats and 70 other vehicles of various kinds.
The assistance from the United States has also included small arms: 200 grenade launchers, 200 shotguns, 200 machine guns and nearly 40 million rounds of ammunition, the official said. America also has sent one million grenade, mortar and artillery rounds, as well as body armor, helmets, tactical gear and military medical equipment, the official said.
The weapons come from existing U.S. military stockpiles in Europe and are flown into neighboring countries, like Poland and Romania, where they are shipped overland into western Ukraine, the official said.
The Biden administration has also asked Congress for $4.25 billion in new funding for economic and humanitarian assistance for Ukrainians.
In addition to weapons, Mr. Zelensky has asked Europe and the United States to provide Ukraine with Polish MIG-29 fighter jets. Poland has declined to send its aging, Russian-made fighters directly to Ukraine but has instead offered to hand them over the United States, delivering them to a U.S. base in Germany, for ultimate transfer to Ukraine.
The Biden administration rejected that plan because of the risk it might pull NATO directly into the war. Instead, the Biden administration provided Ukraine antitank and antiaircraft weapons.