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Biden signs memo to give Ukraine £448 million in immediate military assistance

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U

S President Joe Biden has signed a memorandum to provide up to 600 million dollars (£448 million) in “immediate military assistance” to Ukraine as Kyiv officials warned street fighting was underway against Russian forces in the city.

Ukraine’s president refused a US offer to evacuate him from Kyiv hours after the UK, US and the European Union announced plans to impose personal sanctions on President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in response to the Kremlin assault on Ukraine.

Mr Biden’s later memorandum directed Secretary of State Antony Blinken to provide, subject to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, “immediate military assistance to Ukraine” of up to 250 million dollars (£187 million) “in assistance without regard to any provision of law”. While another 350 million dollars (£261 million) was allocated “in defence articles and services of the Department of Defence, and military education and training”.

It came as authorities in Kyiv urged residents to seek or remain in shelters, avoid going near windows or on balconies and take precautions against being hit by debris or bullets.

As Ukrainians continued to flee across their borders, Boris Johnson said he would be bringing forward measures “imminently”, while the White House and Brussels said they will freeze the assets of Mr Putin and his foreign minister Mr Lavrov.

Britain said that it was also extending a ban of Aeroflot flights landing in the UK to cover Russian private jets favoured by Moscow’s oligarchs.

At a meeting of the United Nations Security Council in New York, Russia – as expected – used its veto to block a motion calling for Moscow to cease the attack and withdraw its troops.

The UK’s ambassador to the UN, Dame Barbara Woodward called the veto “absurd” and said Russia was “isolated”, adding: “History will record how we voted today and which countries stood up to be counted in defence of the Charter and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

There was disappointment in Western capitals that India and the United Arab Emirates joined China in abstaining, weakening the international show of opposition to Russia’s actions.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss also noted Russia’s isolation and called Moscow “a global pariah”.

“Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and violation of the UN Charter will have severe consequences,” Ms Truss added.

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