Sam Fossum and Jack Forrest, CNN
President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke on Sunday to discuss Russia’s invasion and recent US efforts to strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses.
Zelensky thanked Biden for an additional $275 million in security assistance, which the Pentagon announced Friday, as well as for the wider and “unprecedented” US support of Ukraine’s sovereignty in the face of Russian aggression, according to a statement published on the website of Ukraine’s Presidency.
The package announced last week includes weapons and artillery rounds, as well as equipment to help Ukraine boost its air defense.
“(Biden) reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to continue providing Ukraine with security, economic, and humanitarian assistance, holding Russia accountable for its war crimes and atrocities, and imposing costs on Russia for its aggression,” the White House said in a statement.
Zelensky said the “unprecedented defense and financial assistance” from the US helped “not only to succeed on the battlefield,” but also to “maintain the stability of our nation’s economy,” according to the Ukrainian statement.
He told the American president that “Russian missile terror” has led to the destruction of about 50% of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, while thanking the US for allocating aid specifically for the reconstruction of Ukraine’s energy systems.
Biden also highlighted the $53 million package announced late last month to support Ukraine’s electrical system as it faces a barrage of attacks from Russia, according to the White House statement.
Ukraine is scouring the world to find compatible parts and carry out repairs as the morale of ordinary people is tested by power cuts that often last more than 12 hours a day, which could send another wave of Ukrainians into neighboring countries as temperatures drop to extreme lows.
Zelensky also addressed his plan to convene a Global Peace Summit. He presented a 10-point peace plan to end Russia’s invasion in a video speech to G20 leaders in Bali last month.
Biden welcomed his “stated openness to a just peace based on fundamental principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter,” the White House said Sunday.
The steps, as Zelensky outlined them last month, include a path to nuclear safety, food security, a special tribunal for alleged Russian war crimes, and a final peace treaty with Moscow.
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CNN’s Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych contributed to this report.