President Joe Biden said Monday that the United States had "nothing to do" with Wagner's revolt against the Russian military leadership. "This was part of a struggle within the Russian system," Biden said, adding that he was briefed "hour by hour" on the developments by his national security team and allies. A new U.S. military aid package for Ukraine, worth up to $500 million, will be announced as soon as Tuesday. The package will include ground vehicles for Ukraine's counteroffensive, two U.S. officials said.
Ukrainian officials advocated Monday for gaining membership in the NATO alliance, as NATO leaders prepare to gather for a July summit in Lithuania.
“There is every reason to take strong steps on Ukraine’s NATO membership perspective,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted after a discussion with Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly. “We are working with all allies to achieve the best possible result for Ukraine and the Euro-Atlantic security.”
NATO members agreed in 2008 that Ukraine would eventually join NATO, and the alliance’s chief Jens Stoltenberg has reiterated that stance throughout the conflict that Russia launched in Ukraine last year.
But Stoltenberg has said Ukraine joining NATO will not happen while the conflict is ongoing and said last week that in the preparations for the summit in Vilnius, “we’re not discussing to issue a formal invitation.”
“At the summit, we will agree a multi-year package of assistance, and upgrade our political ties with Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said Monday during a visit to Lithuania. “This will bring Ukraine closer to its rightful place in NATO.”
Zelenskyy visits troops
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with troops and handed out awards during a visit to the eastern region of Donetsk.
Zelenskyy said in his nightly address that the troops included those involved in the long-fought battle in Bakhmut.
“I thank everyone who is now fighting for Ukraine, who is preparing for combat, who is on combat missions, who is at combat posts… All those who are recovering from injuries,” Zelenskyy said.
European Union countries agreed Monday to increase their military aid for Ukraine by $3.8 billion to more than $13 billion.
The European Peace Facility (EPF), which EU countries contribute to according to the size of their economies, has already allocated some $5 billion in military aid for Ukraine. This package is separate from the EU’s budget, which is not allowed to finance military operations.
“Today’s decision will again ensure that we have the funding to continue delivering concrete military support to our partners’ armed forces,” the bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, who had requested the increase, said in a statement.
“The facility has proven its worth. It has completely changed the way we support our partners on defense. It makes the EU and its partners stronger,” he said.
Hungary’s foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto, said Monday it would not lift a block on a $546 million tranche of the existing fund until Kyiv removes blacklisted Hungarian bank OTP from a list of companies Kyiv calls “international sponsors” of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Hungary has branded the bank’s inclusion “scandalous.”
The EPF, established in 2021, was designed for the EU to help developing countries buy military equipment. But the 27-member EU quickly decided to use it also to get weapons to Ukraine after Russia’s invasion in February 2023. The fund allows EU countries that supply weapons and ammunition to Ukraine to claim a portion of the cost.
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.