Russia-Ukraine tensions: First US shipment of 'lethal' aid arrives


The U.S. delivered its first shipments of promised assistance to Ukraine Friday night, including “lethal” aid, as part of ongoing efforts to deter Russian invasion. 

The shipment includes around 200,000 pounds of ammunition and weapons for frontline defenders. The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv hailed the shipment – delivered by airplane – as part of $2.7 billion of investments made in Ukraine. 

The embassy also said the shipment “demonstrates the U.S. commitment to helping Ukraine bolster its defenses in the face of growing Russian aggression.”

President Biden has gone to great lengths to make clear the U.S. will support Ukraine with weapons and sanctions, but he does not want to send troops to the country to defend it. 

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“That is not on the table,” Biden said when asked by reporters Wednesday if the U.S. would be sending troops to Ukraine. “We have a moral obligation and a legal obligation to our NATO allies if they were to attack under Article 5, that’s a sacred obligation. That obligation does not extend to … Ukraine.” 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken greets Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov before their meeting, Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, in Geneva, Switzerland. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken greets Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov before their meeting, Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, in Geneva, Switzerland. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)

Russia has made Ukraine’s status a priority in negotiations as Moscow continues to worry that Ukraine might try to join NATO, therefore putting it within the U.S. sphere of direct intervention in the event of any military incursions. 

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The U.S. has remained defiant and refused to allow Russia to dictate how NATO operates, saying it will uphold the open door policy for any nation to join – including Finland and Sweden, which may now view NATO as necessary protection against a country that shows no sign of deescalating a tense situation. 

Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine's army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invasion. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Members of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine’s army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invasion. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said during her New Year’s Eve speech that the nation will “retain the option of applying for NATO membership.”

“We should uphold this freedom of choice and make sure it remains a reality, as this is part of every country’s right to decide on its own security policies,” Marin said. 

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And security remains a concern as Russia continues to amass troops along Ukraine’s border. Images released Thursday by RadioFreeEurope showed Russian military buildup and drills taking place in Yelnya, around 160 miles from Ukraine and 75 miles from Belarus. 

Other images showed armored personnel carriers and trucks at the Klimovo military storage facility some 20 miles away from Ukraine’s border. 

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NATO will conduct large-scale naval exercises next week, which will include the USS Harry S Truman aircraft carrier and anti-sub operations that Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said will show the “deterrence and defense of the alliance.” 

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