Biden, G7 and Ukraine's Zelenskyy to hold talks before Moscow Victory Day

US president announces plans to send additional security assistance to Ukraine

US President Joe Biden steps off Air Force One. AFP
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Group of Seven leaders including US President Joe Biden will hold a video call on Sunday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a show of unity the day before Russia marks its Victory Day holiday, the White House said.

Talks will focus on the latest developments in Russia's invasion of Ukraine, efforts to bolster the country and ways to demonstrate “continued G7 unity in our collective response, including by imposing severe costs for [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s war”, a representative of the White House's National Security Council said.

The leaders of the G7 countries — which include the US, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Canada and Italy — will hold their virtual meeting with Mr Zelenskyy, with the US hosting, the representative added.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the timing of the session was significant because it will take place a day before Mr Putin participates in Victory Day.

The holiday on Monday marks the end of the Second World War and will include military parades across Russia.

“While he expected to be marching through the streets of Kyiv, that certainly is not going to happen,” she said.

Mr Biden is expected to sign a new weapons package worth at least $100 million for Ukraine as soon as Friday or this weekend, several US officials told Reuters and CNN.

The president later confirmed in a White House statement on Friday his intent to send additional security assistance, saying: "I am announcing another package of security assistance that will provide additional artillery munitions, radars, and other equipment to Ukraine."

The president did not share a dollar amount for the new shipment, but said his "administration has nearly exhausted funding that can be used" without needing approval from Congress.

The unidentified officials who spoke to media oulets about the latest package said it would likely include more munitions for systems such as the howitzers. The Pentagon says it has already sent about 184,000 artillery rounds.

The US has already rushed $3.4 billion worth of weapons to Ukraine, including howitzers, anti-aircraft Stinger systems, anti-tank Javelin missiles, ammunition and body armour.

Ms Psaki also said US officials are discussing imposing more sanctions on Russian oligarchs and companies as well as taking steps to that ensure Russians who have been previously sanctioned cannot evade them.

The US and its allies have come together on a host of sweeping sanctions on Russian banks, officials and other entities aimed at punishing Moscow for its actions in Ukraine, including reported war crimes.

Russia characterises its invasion as a “special operation” aimed at demilitarising and “denazifying” Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Mr Biden said he planned to discuss potential additional measures against Moscow for its war in Ukraine, noting that the US is always open to more sanctions.

“I'll be speaking with the members of the G7 this week about what we're going to do or not do,” he told reporters this week, after the EU proposed its toughest sanctions yet against Russia, including a phased oil embargo.

Reuters contributed to this report

Updated: May 06, 2022, 10:02 PM