File photo. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a press conference at the Antonov aircraft plant in Kiev, Ukraine, 20 May 2021. [EPA-EFE/SERGEY DOLZHENKO]
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, thanked the G7 group of wealthy industrial nations on Sunday (13 June) after it voiced support for Kyiv and called on Russia to withdraw troops and weapons from near Ukraine’s eastern border.
Leaders of the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan reaffirmed their backing for Ukraine and called on Moscow to stop its destabilising behaviour in a communique issued after a three-day summit in the UK.
“Commend the unwavering support by #G7 states in the Summit’s communiqué,” Zelenskiy wrote in Twitter.
“Grateful to leaders for the continued support for Ukraine’s independence & sovereignty & the call to the aggressor to withdraw troops from Ukraine’s borders & Crimea. #Crimea is Ukraine!”
Kyiv hopes pressure from Western allies could force Moscow to withdraw tens of thousands of its troops deployed in April near Ukraine’s eastern border and in Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.
The West expressed concern about the worsening of the situation in the eastern region of Donbass, where Ukrainian troops fought Russian-backed forces in a conflict that Kyiv said had killed 14,000 people since 2014.
The Pentagon announced on Friday a new package of $150 million in military assistance for Ukraine that will include counter-artillery radar, electronic warfare equipment and counter-drone technology, bolstering Kyiv amid elevated tensions with Moscow.
Although the funds were already committed by Congress, the Defense Department’s announcement details how the US military will allocate assistance earmarked for Ukraine before the end of the US government’s fiscal year in September.
The latest tranche of assistance will come in addition to the $125 million that the Pentagon announced on 1 March, which included armed Mark VI patrol boats.
Tensions have flared again in recent months after the two countries traded blame for a surge in fighting in Ukraine’s Donbass, and Russia, in what it called a defensive exercise, massed troops on its border with Ukraine and in Crimea.
US President Joe Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Monday he will stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity ahead of a meeting between Biden and Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Geneva on 16 June.
The Pentagon said the US security assistance included capabilities “to enhance the lethality, command and control and situational awareness of Ukraine’s forces”.
It would provide counter-artillery radars, counter-drone systems, secure communications gear, electronic warfare and military medical evacuation equipment.
Ukraine’s defense minister, Andrii Taran, said in a statement on Saturday the decision to provide the second part of the security package was “timely and reasonable”.
The country has received almost $2.5 billion in defense assistance from Washington between 2014 and 2021, Taran added, expressing gratitude “to our American friends for their enormous diplomatic, political and financial support”.
The US assistance followed certification by the Pentagon that Ukraine “made sufficient progress on defense reforms this year,” as required by US law.
During his term as US president, Donald Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led House of Representatives after it accused him of using US aid as leverage to try to force Kyiv into smearing Biden ahead of the 2020 presidential election. The Republican-led Senate later acquitted Trump.