Joe Biden emphasized the need to defend democracy in his Friday speech.

US President Joe Biden has apologized to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for delays in military aid to Ukraine and pledged $225 million (£191 million) in support. The two leaders met for talks in Paris, a day after attending the 80th anniversary commemorations of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France.

The US Department of Defense announced that the new aid package would include ammunition and anti-aircraft missiles. This comes in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which began in February 2022.

Biden attributed the previous delays in aid to opposition from some Republicans in Congress but reaffirmed the US’s unwavering support for Ukraine. "The United States will stand with you," Biden assured Zelensky. "You haven't bowed down. You haven't yielded at all. You continue to fight in a way that is just remarkable."

In response, Zelensky underscored the importance of Ukraine's relationship with the US, highlighting its crucial role in countering Russian aggression: "We count on your continuing support in staying with us shoulder to shoulder."

Following his meeting with Zelensky, Biden delivered a stirring speech at Pointe Du Hoc in Normandy, where US Army Rangers scaled a cliff to storm a Nazi stronghold on D-Day. Reflecting on the sacrifices made on 6 June 1944, Biden posed a poignant question: "Does anyone doubt that they would want America to stand up against Putin's aggression here in Europe today?" He called on Americans to protect freedom and democracy, both abroad and at home.

During the D-Day commemorations in Normandy on Thursday, Biden and Zelensky were joined by other world leaders. Earlier in the day, Zelensky addressed the French parliament, stating that the ongoing conflict with Russia has made Europe "unfortunately no longer a continent of peace." He expressed hope that an upcoming summit in Switzerland could help bring an end to the war.

While in Paris, Zelensky is also scheduled to meet French President Emmanuel Macron. Macron announced on French TV that Paris would send Mirage 2000 fighter jets to Ukraine and begin training Ukrainian pilots this summer, with the expectation that they will be operational by the end of the year. Macron added that Western allies are considering a request to send military instructors to train Ukrainian forces on the ground.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov criticized Macron's comments, interpreting them as a willingness to take a "direct" role in the Ukraine conflict.

These developments follow a statement from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who warned that Moscow could supply weapons to countries targeting Western interests. Putin criticized the West’s delivery of long-range weapons to Ukraine but did not specify which countries Russia might arm.

Several nations, including the US, have authorized Ukraine to strike targets within Russia. However, Biden has limited the use of American-supplied weapons to areas near the Kharkiv region, and the White House has prohibited Ukraine from using long-range ATACMS missiles on Russian soil. Photo by The White House, Wikimedia commons.