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Biden hails 'tough and proud' Ukrainian fighters in summit with U.S. military leaders

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Biden hails 'tough and proud' Ukrainian fighters in summit with U.S. military leaders
President Joe Biden held an annual summit with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Combatant Commanders including Secretary Lloyd Austin (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley (R) in the Cabinet Room at the White House on Wednesday. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

April 20 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden praised the toughness of the Ukrainian military in an annual gathering of top U.S. military leaders on Wednesday.

Biden commended the military leaders including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, for "the exceptional work you're doing to arm and equip brave Ukrainians that defend their nation," as he recalled his visits to Ukraine before taking office in remarks before the summit.

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"I knew they were tough and proud, but I tell you what, they're tougher and more proud than I thought," Biden said. "I'm amazed what they're doing with your help, in terms of providing advice and weaponry we're providing along with the rest of NATO."

The remarks came as the planned opening of a humanitarian corridor in southern Ukraine to allow people trapped in Mariupol a way out of the fighting was stalled Wednesday because Russia couldn't ensure a cease-fire.

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Russian forces on Tuesday also captured the city of Kreminna they moved forward with an offensive in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region

Biden on Tuesday told reporters that he was the United States would send more artillery to Ukraine, with CNN and NBC News reporting that the White House is preparing an $800 million military assistance package.

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"Weapons and ammunition are flowing in daily and we're seeing just how vital our alliances and partnerships are around the world," he said Wednesday.

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The president also said that he has "never seen NATO as united" as it has been in its response to the conflict in Ukraine, adding he didn't think Russian President Vladimir Putin "counted on being able to hold us together."

"Our allies are stepping up, amplifying the impact of our response," Biden said. "And NATO is united, focused and energized as it's ever been."

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