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U.S. Says 'Contingency' Aid Ready If Russia Attacks Ukraine

A Ukrainian soldier holds a U.S.-supplied Javelin anti-tank missile during a military exercise at near Rivne on May 26.

The United States has prepared contingency military aid in the event of further Russian military incursions into Ukraine, the White House has said.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement on June 18 that recent U.S. media reports that the United States held back security assistance to Ukraine were "nonsense."

Politico and The Washington Post reported this week that President Joe Biden's administration set aside a military aid package to Ukraine worth tens of millions of dollars that included lethal weapons.

The potential package, which was said to include arms and more anti-tank missiles, had been drawn up in response to a Russian troop and military hardware buildup near Ukraine's borders in the spring.

The military maneuvers caused consternation in Washington and European capitals about Moscow's intentions at a time of increased fighting in eastern Ukraine between Kyiv and Kremlin-backed separatists.

The U.S. media outlets reported the United States temporarily halted the proposal when Russia said in April that it intended to reduce the more than 100,000 troops it had moved near the border areas.

Despite the withdrawal announcement, U.S. and Ukrainian officials say Russia has left some military hardware in place, which could be used to rapidly mobilize in the event of escalation.

Moscow says the remaining forces, including armored units and rocket systems, are in place for military drills later in the year.

The United States has provided more than $2.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since 2014, when Russia forcibly seized Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and backed separatists in the east, sparking a war that has killed more than 13,000 people.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon announced a $150 million package to Ukraine of "defensive lethal assistance," including counter-artillery radars, communications and electronic warfare equipment, and counter-drone systems.

In March, the Pentagon announced another tranche of $125 million, including additional armed Mark VI patrol boats.

The assistance comes from funds already committed by Congress for the U.S. government's fiscal year that ends in September.

"The idea that we have held back security assistance to Ukraine is nonsense. Just last week -- in the run-up to the U.S.-Russia summit -- we provided a $150 million package of security assistance, including lethal assistance," Psaki said in her statement.

"We have also prepared contingency funds in the event of a further Russian incursion into Ukraine," she added. "As President Biden told President [Vladimir] Putin directly, we will stand unwavering in support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Biden has said he seeks a relationship with Russia that is "stable and predictable," a message he sought to instill ahead of a summit with Putin this week when the two leaders discussed wide-ranging issues from cyberattacks and arms control to the conflict in Ukraine.

With reporting by Politico and The Washington Post
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