Russia Ukraine conflict

Biden, Zelenskyy discuss sanctions, aid, talks with Russia

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US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday discussed additional US aid, sanctions and Kyiv’s peace talks with Russia in an hour-long call, the two sides said.

The US intends to give Ukraine $500 million in direct budgetary aid, Biden told his Ukrainian counterpart, according to a White House statement.

Biden also reviewed sanctions and humanitarian assistance that were announced last week, while Zelenskyy updated Biden on the status of negotiations with Russia, the White House said in a statement following the call.

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“Shared assessment of the situation on the battlefield and at the negotiating table. Talked about specific defensive support, a new package of enhanced sanctions, macro-financial and humanitarian aid,” Zelenskyy wrote in a post on Twitter.

The White House separately said the two discussed Washington’s efforts “to fulfill the main security assistance requests by Ukraine, 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.”

Their call came as Russian forces continued bombardments near Kyiv and another northern Ukraine city one day after promising to scale down operations nearly five weeks after invading its southern neighbor.

The West has dismissed Moscow’s promise as a ploy to regroup by invaders taking heavy losses.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its southern neighbor’s military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.

A US official, citing declassified intelligence, on Wednesday said Russian President Vladimir Putin was misled by advisers who were too scared to tell him how poorly the war in Ukraine is going and how damaging Western sanctions have been.

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