President Joe Biden had a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Wednesday, March 30, 2022.
The two men spoke for a bit less than an hour, according to the White House, on a day when Zelensky renewed his push for powerful defensive weapons.
According to a White House readout, the two men spoke ‘about the ongoing work by the United States and its allies and partners to deliver military, economic, and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and to impose severe costs on Russia for its brutal aggression against Ukraine.’
‘The leaders discussed how the United States is working around the clock to fulfill the main security assistance requests by Ukraine,’ it said – amid domestic political pressure for Biden to do even more.
They also spoke about ‘the critical effects those weapons have had on the conflict, and continued efforts by the United States with allies and partners to identify additional capabilities to help the Ukrainian military defend its country.’
Biden told his counterpart the US would provide $500 million in direct budgetary aid, which appears to be in addition to a recently announced $1 million in humanitarian aide, and an $800 million batch of military aid.
‘President Zelenskyy updated President Biden on the status of Ukraine’s negotiations with Russia,’ it said.
Biden held talks in Warsaw Saturday with Ukraine’s defense and foreign affairs ministers during his trip to Belgium and Poland.
He capped off his trip with a speech where he denounced Putin and sought to rally allies to support Ukraine.
But Zelensky and his top advisors have continued to push the U.S. and allies to do even more – including through calls to ‘close the skies’ over Ukraine and provide fighter jets. Zelensky pleaded in a speech to NATO allies for nations to spare just 1 percent of their tanks and planes.
Even as Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken were meeting with Zelensky’s team, a top aide demanded more ‘bravery’ from NATO allies who are arming Ukraine.
‘The [NATO] Alliance is taking decisions as if there [were] no war,’ Zelensky chief of staff Andriy Yermak told Atlantic Council over the weekend.
Zelensky addressed the Norwegian parliament on Wednesday, where he called for allies to provide more weapons and defenses. He called for Harpoon rockets, anti-ship missiles, and air defenses.
‘All weapons you can help us with will be used only to protect our freedom, your freedom,’ he said. Harpoon rockets are long-distance anti-ship missiles.
The call comes as a U.S. official said Putin was being misled by his top advisors, amid indications he was not fully aware of the battlefield losses and logistical nightmares Russia’s forces have encountered since the start of their Feb. 24 invasion.
‘We have information that Putin felt misled by the Russian military,’ leading him to distrust leaders, said a U.S. official who discussed declassified information on the condition of anonymity.