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The Biden administration has reportedly temporarily suspended a $100 million worth military aid package to Ukraine that includes even lethal weapons.
The National Security Council directed officials to put the package together, as Washington grew increasingly concerned over a massive Russian military buildup near the border with Ukraine and in the Crimean Peninsula.
The latest proposal to provide military aid came about after Russia staged more than 100,000 troops, along with rocket battalions and heavy armor units, near Ukraine’s border this spring, according to estimates. After Russia announced it would draw down troops near the Ukrainian border in late April, the council put the proposal on hold, Politico reported citing sources.
The package could include short-range air defense systems, small arms and more anti-tank weapons.
Last week, the Pentagon announced a $150 million package as part of the Ukraine security assistance initiative. This included capabilities such as to counter artillery, radars, counter unmanned aerial systems, and secure communications. Another $125 million military aid to Ukraine was announced in March.
U.S. President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin met on June 16 at Geneva.
“The idea that we have held back security assistance to Ukraine is nonsense. Just last week—in the run-up to the U.S.-Russia Summit—we provided a $150 million package of security assistance, including lethal assistance,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
Russia forcibly annexed the Crimea in 2014, sparking international outrage. Since then, Ukraine has been in a tense struggle with Russia amid a separatist rebellion supported by Russia that has claimed the lives of more than 14,000 people.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced in May that Moscow was in the process of building 20 new military units to base in Western Russia, close to the Ukrainian border over the next year.