Biden will send Ukraine air defense weapons, artillery once Senate approves, Zelenskyy says

WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday that the U.S. will send desperately needed air defense weapons once the Senate passes a major national security aid package that includes $61 billion for Ukraine.

Zelensky said in a message on X that Biden also assured him that a coming aid package would also include long-range and artillery capabilities.

Ukraine is awaiting approval from the US Senate after the House of Representatives approved the $95 billion package this weekend, which also includes aid to other allies. It comes after months of delays as some Republican lawmakers opposed further funding for Ukraine and threatened to oust Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., if he allowed a vote to take place.

Kiev urgently needs new firepower now that Moscow has stepped up its attacks on the backward Ukraine. The Senate is expected to vote on the package this week, and Biden has vowed to sign it into law quickly.

Zelenskyy said he and Biden also discussed “Russian air terror using thousands of missiles, drones and bombs,” including an attack on the Kharkov television tower, just minutes before they spoke.

“Russia clearly states its intention to make the city uninhabitable,” Zelenskky said

Russia has exploited the air defense shortage in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, to destroy the region’s energy infrastructure and harm its 1.3 million residents. Some officials and analysts warn it could be a concerted effort by Moscow to create the conditions for a summer offensive to capture the city.

The White House confirmed in a statement that Biden told Zelenskyy “that his administration will quickly provide significant new security assistance packages to meet Ukraine’s urgent battlefield and air defense needs once the Senate passes the national security supplement and he signs it into law.”

“President Biden also underscored that U.S. economic assistance will help maintain financial stability, rebuild critical infrastructure after Russian attacks, and support reforms as Ukraine moves forward on the path of Euro-Atlantic integration,” the White House said.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan delegation of members of the US Congress met with Zelenskyy in Kiev on Monday. The delegation included representatives from Tom Kean Jr., R-N.J., Nathaniel Moran, R-Texas, Bill Keating, D-Mass., and Madeleine Deane, D-Pa.

Kean told reporters “we know that Ukraine’s needs are urgent” and that U.S. assistance “is critical to stem the tide of Russian attacks.”

Kean said Biden should use the authority in the bill to quickly supply Ukraine with the weapons it has requested, including longer-range ATACM missiles.

Zelenskyy said he discussed with US lawmakers Ukraine’s needs for artillery shells, long-range missiles, electronic warfare equipment, unmanned aerial vehicles, combat aviation and support in developing Ukraine’s defense industry.

They also discussed Ukraine’s bid to eventually join NATO, U.S. participation in an international conference in Switzerland in June aimed at charting a path to peace in Ukraine, and other issues.


AP writer Jill Lawless in Kyiv contributed reporting.