Five key ways the US has supported Ukraine’s war effort
Al Jazeera examines Washington’s notable moves to help Kyiv fight against Moscow’s invasion over the past year.
Washington, DC – United States officials often stress that Russia has failed in its war in Ukraine, citing Moscow’s battlefield setbacks and its failure to capture Kyiv in a lightning offensive a year ago.
While the US credits Ukrainian forces for halting Russian advances, it also says aid from Washington and its allies has been instrumental in helping Kyiv fight on.
President Joe Biden regularly reiterates that the US will support Ukraine “as long as it takes” to repel Moscow’s invasion.
“There should be no doubt: Our support for Ukraine will not waver, NATO will not be divided and we will not tire,” Biden said in Warsaw earlier this week.
As the war enters its second year this week, Al Jazeera revisits key ways the US has assisted Ukraine so far:
Billions in aid
The core component of US support has been the military, humanitarian and budgetary aid the Biden administration has been providing to Kyiv.
The US Congress, which dictates the federal government’s budget, moved quickly after the invasion on February 24, 2022, to authorise billions of dollars for Ukraine, giving the Pentagon, State Department and other agencies the resources to keep the assistance flowing.
In March, US legislators approved $13.6bn for Kyiv. That was followed by $40bn in May and another $12bn in September.
Thank you 🇺🇸Congress, @SpeakerPelosi,@GOPLeader, @LeaderMcConnell,@SenSchumer, @SenatorLeahy, @rosadelauro for additional $45 bln aid to 🇺🇦,& for unwavering bipartisan support 🇺🇦 in our fight for freedom. It’s crucial that 🇺🇸people’re side by side w/ 🇺🇦people in this struggle.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) December 23, 2022
In December, Congress passed another government funding bill containing $45bn in Ukraine aid.
The Biden administration has been dispensing the aid in periodic packages over the past year.
While the US often says it is not seeking a direct confrontation with Russia in Ukraine, Washington has been using economic measures to penalise Moscow for the invasion.
Since the start of the war, the US has imposed hundreds of sanctions against Russian government officials, companies and wealthy elites connected to President Vladimir Putin.
The first round of US sanctions was announced on the day Russia launched its invasion. The sanctions were aimed at tech imports and large financial institutions in Russia. Many more sanctions would follow.
“Putin is the aggressor; Putin chose this war and now he and his country will bear the consequences,” Biden said as the invasion began.
In March, Biden banned US imports of Russian oil.
After Moscow announced the annexation of four eastern Ukrainian territories in September, Washington also imposed sanctions on hundreds of Russia-linked firms and officials.
For his part, Putin has called US and Western sanctions “stupid”, stressing that Russia will not be deterred by the economic measures.
“We are strong people and can cope with any challenge. Like our ancestors, we will solve any problem. The entire thousand-year history of our country speaks of this,” the Russian president said in June.
Weapons: Javelins, HIMARs and tanks
Over the past year, the US administration has announced dozens of military aid packages to Ukraine – assistance that the Pentagon says is tailored to the needs of the battlefield.
Early in the conflict, US-made Javelin anti-tank missiles proved decisive in repelling the Russian campaign for Kyiv. As Russia shifted its focus to capturing eastern parts of Ukraine, Washington likewise adjusted its military assistance.
The US began supplying Ukrainian forces with howitzers and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), helping Ukraine recapture the city of Kherson, as well as significant parts of the eastern region of the Donbas and the southern region of Kharkiv.
A Patriot missile air defence system followed in December as Russia intensified its attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure.
Last month, Biden announced more military equipment for Ukraine, including its first delivery of Abrams tanks.
“They need to be able to counter Russia’s evolving tactics and strategy on the battlefield in the very near term,” Biden said of Ukrainian forces in January.
“They need to improve their ability to manoeuvre in open terrain and they need an enduring capability to deter and defend against Russian aggression over the long term.”
Russian officials have said sending arms to Ukraine prolongs and intensifies the conflict.
Abuse accusations and calls for accountability
Mere weeks after the war broke out, US officials accused Russian forces of perpetrating human-rights abuses in Ukraine.
In March, Biden drew a rebuke from the Kremlin when he called Putin a “war criminal”, which Moscow described as “unacceptable and unforgivable rhetoric”.
The State Department said around the same time that it had determined some members of the Russian military had committed “war crimes” during the conflict.
A month later, the US president accused Russia of inflicting “genocide” against Ukraine.
More recently, Washington said it determined that Russian forces committed “crimes against humanity” — defined as systemic or widespread abuses directed against civilians — during the war.
The Biden administration has coupled such charges with calls for accountability, backing Ukrainian and international efforts to investigate and prosecute any abuses.
Russia has rejected the US accusations as an attempt to “demonise” Moscow and inflame tensions.
Days ahead of the first anniversary of the war, Ukrainians received an unexpected guest in their capital city: the president of the United States.
Biden’s visit to Kyiv this week aimed to highlight the US commitment to Ukraine as well as the shortcomings of the Russian offensive.
“One year later, Kyiv stands,” Biden said after meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The following day, the US president delivered a speech on the war from Warsaw, promising that “Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin also visited Ukraine over the past year. So have top US legislators from both the Republican and Democratic parties.
Biden has stressed NATO unity and support for Zelenskyy’s government as a key contributor to what he calls Putin’s failure in Ukraine.
The US has also pushed to condemn the Russian invasion at international bodies, including the United Nations General Assembly.