Days ahead of the June 16 Biden-Putin summit in Geneva, the Pentagon announced a $150 million defense allocation for Ukraine to help "bolster its borders against Russia."
A Friday Defense Department statement detailed that the large package for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative includes "training, equipment, and advisory efforts to help Ukraine’s forces preserve the country’s territorial integrity, secure its borders, and improve interoperability with NATO."
The statement further notes that it will fund "counter-artillery radars, counter-unmanned aerial systems, secure communications gear, electronic warfare and military medical evacuation equipment, and training and equipment to improve the operational safety and capacity of Ukrainian Air Force bases."
It's being made available through the State Department's foreign military financing budget, and was previously approved by Congress on a conditional basis for fiscal year 2021, based on whether Ukraine would meet "progress" on ongoing anti-corruption efforts and reforms.
On this front, the Pentagon said it "was able to certify that Ukraine has made sufficient progress on defense reforms this year," according to press secretary John Kirby.
Meanwhile, leaders in Kiev have continued their recent renewed push to be fast-tracked for NATO membership, and all of this will no doubt add to already soaring tensions going into the Biden-Putin meeting.
The White House indicated on Saturday morning that President Biden plans to appear in a solo press conference following this upcoming week's meeting with Putin in Switzerland, instead of the usual joint presser that's more typical of such bilateral summits, saying it's necessary for the US President to interact with a "free press" - though we fail to see how that wouldn't be the case if it also included Putin.
"We expect this meeting to be candid and straightforward and a solo press conference is the appropriate format to clearly communicate with the free press the topics that were raised in the meeting—both in terms of areas where we may agree and in areas where we have significant concerns," a White House official said.