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Biden announced another $800 million in weapons for Ukraine

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

President Biden this morning announced another $800 million in military aid for Ukraine. This is just one part of support for Ukraine as it tries to beat back the invasion by Russia.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: To modernize Teddy Roosevelt's famous advice, sometimes you will speak softly and carry a large Javelin because we're sending a lot of those in as well. You know, but we're not sitting on the funding that Congress has provided for Ukraine. We're sending it directly to the front lines of freedom.

MARTINEZ: But President Biden says more is needed, and next week he'll ask Congress for another wave of funding. Here to tell us more, NPR White House correspondent Asma Khalid. The 800 million the president announced today comes on top of another 800 million in security assistance that the president announced just last week. And now he's going to have to go to Capitol Hill to get more money to help Ukraine.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: That's right, A. And, you know, I will say the president said today with this latest disbursement he's essentially drawn down everything Congress has authorized for Ukraine, and that in order to keep weapons flowing to Ukrainians for this next phase of the war against Russia, in order to do that without any interruption, he does intend to ask Congress for more money next week. You know, the key question is, how much? And I will say that is unclear. He says it's being decided right now. He's asking the Defense Department to put something together on what they think is needed. But I was, you know, particularly struck by a question the president was asked near the end of his remarks today, which is, how long can the U.S. keep funding this war? How long is it sustainable? Here's how the president answered.

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BIDEN: Well, we have the capacity to do this for a long time. The question is, are we going to continue to maintain the support of the international community and keep the pressure on Putin to prevent him from overrunning the country?

MARTINEZ: So what exactly does today's announcement of more military aid entail?

KHALID: Well, the president says that the U.S. is really trying to assist Ukraine quickly ahead of this next phase of the war. He says it's clear that Russians could not capture Ukraine's capital of Kyiv, And so they're trying to regroup and target the eastern part of the country, the Donbas. And in Biden's words, there's really a critical window right now where the U.S. and allies have to work quickly to get Ukraine the weapons that it needs. He says that this fiery fight in the eastern part of the country is going to take place in a flatter region. It's going to require different kinds of weapons. He says that will mean heavy artillery weapons, howitzers, 144,000 rounds of ammunition and more tactical drones.

MARTINEZ: Now, the Biden administration also announced a new program to, in theory, streamline the process for refugees to come to the U.S. How is that going to work?

KHALID: Yeah, you're right. You know, the president pledged in Europe last month that the U.S. would take in as many as a hundred thousand Ukrainian refugees. To date, there hasn't been really a process to accept folks coming in. Next week, the Department of Homeland Security is standing up a website for sponsors here in the U.S. to upload affidavits to financially support Ukrainians who want to come to the U.S. They will then have to go through a screening process. But really, this process is targeting Ukrainians in Europe. To date, almost 15,000 Ukrainians have crossed into the United States via the southern land border in Mexico during just the past couple of months. They have been given some exemptions, but U.S. officials today made it very clear that starting next week, they do not intend to allow giving Ukrainians at the southern border an exemption to come into the U.S..

MARTINEZ: That's NPR's Asma Khalid. Thanks a lot.

KHALID: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.