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The conflict between Russia and Ukraine could be a long and difficult battle as the U.S. and its partners continue to provide Kiev with defense and other assistance, President Joe Biden said Wednesday following an announcement of $800 million in defense aid to Ukraine.
"Now, I want to be honest with you. This could be a long and difficult battle, but the American people will be steadfast in our support of the people of Ukraine in the face of Putin’s immoral, unethical attacks on civilian populations," Biden said.
He added that the latest U.S. defense package includes 800 anti-aircraft systems, 9,000 anti-armor systems, 7,000 small arms, drones, and more than 20 million rounds of ammunition.
The U.S., NATO and other partner nations have increased humanitarian, economic and defense aid shipments to Ukraine and changed the force posture on the alliance's eastern flank in recent weeks.
On February 24, Russia launched a special operation to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine after the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics requested assistance to defend themselves from increasingly intense attacks by Ukrainian troops.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the operation aims to neutralize Ukrainian military infrastructure and that civilians are not in danger.
According to the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, hundreds of civilians have been killed and injured in Ukraine since February 24.
Moreover, more than two million Ukrainians have sought refuge in neighboring countries since the beginning of the Russian operation, according to U.N. data.
The fourth round of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, held in videoconference mode, began on Monday.
The head of the international affairs committee of the State Duma (lower house of the Russian parliament), Leonid Slutsky, noted substantial progress in the development of the negotiations and said that this could lead to the development of a coordinated position and the signing of documents that would allow to reduce the tension in the development of the Russian special operation and save lives.