President Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Oval Office on Sept. 1, ahead of announcing the aid package for Ukraine. Photo by Doug Mills/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 2 (UPI) -- Calling Ukraine's success "central to the global struggle between democracy and autocracy," the White House said it will strengthen diplomatic and military ties between the U.S. and the eastern European nation.
Following a Wednesday meeting between President Joe Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the White House announced an agreement that included a $60 million military assistance to fight Russian aggression.
The wide-ranging agreement will also include measures aimed at improving democracy and economic development in Ukraine.
"Our relationship serves as a cornerstone for security, democracy, and human rights in Ukraine and the broader region," the White House said in a statement.
"We are committed to Ukraine's implementation of the deep and comprehensive reforms necessary to fulfill its European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations. We are also united in our commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of continued Russian aggression," the White House said.
Russia in 2014 annexed Crimea and the city of Sevastopol from Ukraine while it was mired in political instability.
The annexation was met with pushback from the U.S. and its allies, and Ukraine has struggled with Russian-backed separatists in eastern parts of the country.
The agreement commits the United States to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine's conflict-ravaged eastern areas, while also supporting efforts to help the country weed out corruption and improving its response to COVID-19 and climate change.
As part of the military security package, the U.S. will bolster Ukraine's defense against cyber attacks and provide it with Javelin anti-tank missile systems.
The White House also said it will support Ukraine's military reforms that will bring it in closer alignment with NATO.
"No nation can confront today's challenges alone. We value the close cooperation with European allies and partners to enhance deterrence and counter a range of regional threats," Maj. Gen. David Tabor, Special Operations Command Europe commanding general, said in a press statement announcing recent military exercises between the countries.
In August, members of the U.S. Air Force's 352nd Special Operations Wing and 24th Special Operations Wing deployed to Ukraine to conduct training with the country's Special Operations Forces and Air Force members.
The training overlapped with Ukrainian Independence Day, Aug. 24, and included a low-level flight over capital city Kyiv in an MC-130J jet.
Previously, the 352nd Special Operations Wing has conducted other exercises with Ukraine in the Black Sea region, including Seabreeze and Fiction Urchin.
Relations with Ukraine were politically fraught in the U.S. during the Trump era.
In 2019, then President Donald Trump was impeached over accusations he threatened to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless Zelenskyy promised an investigation of Biden. Trump was acquitted, however, during a trial in the Senate.