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Biden pledges $60M in military aid to Ukraine ahead of meeting with Zelensky

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Biden pledges $60M in military aid to Ukraine ahead of meeting with Zelensky
President Joe Biden on Tuesday approved a $60 million military assistance package for Ukraine as he prepares to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. File Photo by Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA-EFE

Aug. 31 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Tuesday committed $60 million in military aid to Ukraine as he prepares to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the assistance package includes Javelin anti-armor systems among other provisions to help Ukraine better defend itself against aggression from Russia.

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"The United States and our allies are committed to supporting Ukraine's right to decide its own future foreign policy, free from outside interference," Austin said at a news conference alongside Zelensky and Ukrainian Minister of Defense Andrii Taran.

"You can count on our continued support in the face of Russian aggression to help Ukraine realize its Euro-Atlantic aspirations in support of a more secure, prosperous and democratic and free Ukraine," Austin added.

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Zelensky on Tuesday said he believes military assistance from the United States is "getting stronger."

"You provide precious support for rehabilitation of our combatants, the people who come from the war wounded and injured," he said.

The United States has provided Ukraine with $4.6 billion in military aid including security and non-security assistance since 2014 in efforts to counter aggression from Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country.

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Biden extended his invitation to Zelensky to visit the White House in June as he "reaffirmed the unwavering U.S. support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and noted Volodymyr Zelensky's leadership in implementing fundamental reforms in the country," during a phone call with the Ukrainian president.

The meeting was originally scheduled to take place last week but was postponed following the rapid collapse of the Afghan government as the United States withdrew its troops.

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