Joe Biden has authorized the release of $350million of military assistance to Ukraine after taking his latest weekend break to Delaware as Russian troops began to invade Kyiv.
The president’s handouts, shared on Friday evening, stipulated that $350million is made available to Ukraine ‘in defense articles and services of the Department of Defense, and military education and training, and to make the determinations required under such section to direct such a drawdown.’
A further $250million will be offered ‘in assistance without regard to any provision of law’.
Biden offered the cash as Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky revealed he’d snubbed a US offer of evacuation from war-town Kyiv, as Vladimir Putin reportedly dispatched kidnap squads to abduct or kill him.
Zelensky said: ‘The fight is here. I need ammunition, not a ride.’ He spoke as Ukrainian forces claimed to have killed 3,500 Russian troops during a bloody night of combat across the European state, which saw street battles begin to erupt on the streets of Kyiv.
Russia has yet to capture the capital, as reports suggested the Kremlin’s advance was going more slowly than anticipated.
On Friday night, Biden traveled home to Delaware for a weekend break as Ukraine burns after Russia invaded and the United States was condemned for appearing weak.
The president and First Lady Jill Biden were snapped exiting the White House on Friday evening to board their Marine One helicopter as Europe faces its biggest conflict since World War Two.
President Biden, 79, and First Lady Biden, 70, donned their customary face masks, even though both are vaccinated and boosted, and the CDC itself has indicated that the time to lift almost all mandates has come.
Biden has access to technology that allows him to work from his luxury home in Rehoboth Beach, and will be following the latest developments in Ukraine from there.
But critics will likely ask whether Biden should remain at the White House to help project the power and authority that comes with his office during a time that has left many across the United States and wider world fearful for their safety.
The White House released this memorandum on Friday evening authorizing the release of up to $600 million in military assistance to Ukraine
President Biden is pictured leaving the White House for his Delaware home on Friday evening
Biden and his wife Jill appeared relaxed as they headed for Marine One, despite Europe currently experiencing its biggest conflict since World War Two
The United States has imposed a raft of punitive financial sanctions against Russia in a bid to try and deter Vladimir Putin from continuing to invade Ukraine.
But thus far, the Russian premier – whose personal fortune has been estimated by Forbes to sit at $200 billion – has not been deterred.
The US has provided Ukraine with considerable military hardware, and thus far President Volodymyr Zelensky’s forces appear to have slowed the Russian onslaught.
But Kremlin troops had entered Ukraine in the early hours of Saturday morning, and it is feared the capital city could fall to Putin later on Saturday.
Pentagon efforts to try and stop the war from flaring were slick, but ultimately unsuccessful.
US intelligence on Russian troops’ movements ahead of the invasion was shared far more freely than normal, in an attempt to spook Putin.
America also warned of the sanctions Russia would face if Putin did invade, but the image-obsessed Russian leader ultimately decided to plow on anyway.
The POTUS and FLOTUS both wore masks outdoors, even though both have received their COVID vaccines and booster shots
President Biden and the first lady held hands as they walked towards Marine One
President Biden left for Delaware hours after the White House announced he is planning to impose sanctions directly on Vladimir Putin, the White House announced on Friday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov wil also be targeted.
The European Union and United Kingdom announced they would introduce sanctions targeting Putin and Lavrov on Friday.
‘In alignment with the decision by our European allies, the United States will join them in sanctioning President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov and members of the Russian national security team,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at her press briefing.
She said travel ban ‘would be a part of the US component’ in sanctions on Putin and Lavrov.
Putin will become the highest target to be hit after the White House imposed measures on multiple Russian banks and oligarchs. Biden had been under pressure to target Putin personally for his attack of the Ukraine.
The move will be largely symbolic as it remains unclear where Putin’s money is and how much there is of it.
Their chopper took off into the mild Washington evening, and flew over the iconic Washington monument.
Bloomberg notes Putin’s latest financial disclosure reveals that his annual income is about 10 million rubles ($120,050), and he owns three cars and an apartment.
But there are also reports Putin owns a superyatch worth $100 million. And that his estimated worth is $200 billion.
Earlier Friday, Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for about 40 minutes.
Zelensky said the two men discussed stronger sanctions on Russia and more support from the United States.
‘Strengthening sanctions, concrete defense assistance and an anti-war coalition have just been discussed with @POTUS. Grateful to [United States] for the strong support to [Ukraine]!,’ he wrote on Twitter.
Zelensky had pushed for Putin to be directly sanctioned.
The Ukrainian president took to the streets of Kyiv to say ‘we are still here’ while Ukrainian forces slowed down Russian advances and civilians took up arms to fight for the capital Kyiv.
Zelensky had been critical of a lack of support from the United States and its allies. He was also battling a Russian-disinformation campaign that he had fled Kyiv.
‘We are here. We are in Kyiv. We are defending Ukraine,’ Zelensky said in a video posted to Facebook. He spoke in the streets of Kyiv, the night sky visible behind him.
It’s unclear what kind of support Biden offered to Zelensky, who said he is ‘target number one’ for Russian assassins and his wife and children are ‘number two.’
There are fears he may be assassinated and replaced by a Putin puppet.
Before the phone call, Biden met virtually with fellow NATO members on Friday morning to reassure eastern allies they will be protected as Russian troops prepared to enter Kyiv.
U.S. intelligence officials are worried the Ukrainian capitol could fall within days, CNN reported, as Russian forces are within 20 miles of its location and residents are being urged to make Molotov cocktails to help defend the city.
Amid reports the Kremlin is gunning for him, Zelensky had slammed the United States and its allies for leaving his country to fight alone.
‘Who is ready to fight alongside us? I don’t see anyone,’ he said on Thursday night. ‘Who is ready to give Ukraine a guarantee of NATO membership? Everyone is afraid.’
‘We’re defending our country alone. The most powerful forces in the world are watching this from a distance,’ Zelensky said.
After the meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the 30-nation organization will send parts of the NATO Response Force and elements of a quickly deployable spearhead unit to the alliance´s eastern flank. It´s the first time the force has been used to defend NATO allies.
‘We are now deploying the NATO Response Force for the first time in a collective defense context. We speak about thousands of troops. We speak about air and maritime capabilities,’ Stoltenberg said.
President Joe Biden will meet virtually with fellow NATO members on Friday morning to reassure eastern allies they will be protected
Ukrainian national guard were forming up on Kyiv’s streets Friday as they prepared to defend the city from a Russian assault, shortly before heavy gunfire and explosions were heard
A brave Ukrainian citizen has been filmed apparently trying to stop a convoy of Russian Tigr-M fighting vehicles – similar to American Humvees – moving along a highway close to Crimea in scenes reminiscent of Tiananmen Square’s ‘tank man’
Russian battle plans to take Kyiv and force an early end to the war in Ukraine have been revealed by US intelligence, who say troops and armour would be used to capture airfields, before a force of 10,000 paratroopers would be flown in to capture the city, round up the government, and force them to sign a peace deal handing control of the country back to Russia
President Joe Biden (upper left) participates in the NATO meeting
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg convenes leaders for a virtual summit
A general view of a meeting room during a virtual summit called in by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Brussels, Belgium
Meanwhile, the Kremlin offered to send a delegation to Belarus to negotiate with Ukraine but only under harsh conditions.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was ready to send a delegation to Minsk. But Peskovmade it clear that Russia expected Ukraine’s ‘denazification and demilitarization’ of Ukraine, meaning Kyiv’s capitulation.
Some NATO nations are already taking defensive measures as Russian aggression grows.
Lithuania declared a state of emergency Thursday after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine. Lithuania borders Russia´s Kaliningrad region to the southwest. NATO members Belarus is to the east, Latvia is to the north and Poland is to the south.
‘We cannot take the luxury to be (a) discussion club,’ Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said overnight at an emergency summit of European Union leaders held to impose a ‘heavy price’ on Russia through sanctions. ‘We need to take action.’
The Baltic members have said the West should ‘urgently provide Ukrainian people with weapons, ammunition and any other kind of military support to defend itself as well as economic, financial and political assistance and support, humanitarian aid.’
NATO began beefing up its defenses in northeastern Europe after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Recently, some members have also sent troops, aircraft and warships to the Black Sea region, near allies Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey.
Short-term, NATO has activated an emergency planning system to allow commanders to move forces more quickly. The Pentagon said Thursday that it is sending 7,000 troops to Europe in addition to 5,000 recently deployed personnel.
Independence Square in central Kyiv, Ukraine
Ukrainian soldiers take positions in downtown Kyiv
Servicemen of the Ukrainian National Guard take positions in central Kyiv
Additionally, pressure is building on Biden to personally sanction Putin. The U.S. has already sanctioned several members of Putin’s inner circle and many Russian oligarchs who made their money off his regime.
Biden said Thursday that sanctioning the Russian leader remained ‘on the table’ but refused to answer a question on why Putin has not yet been personally targeted.
The European Union will freeze Putin’s assets and those of the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, but will not impose a travel ban on them, the New York Times reported.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk