US to accept Ukrainian refugees

Joe Biden

The U.S. will accept 100,000 Ukrainian refugees and others fleeing Russia’s invasion and provide more than $1 billion in new humanitarian assistance, the White House announced Thursday.

The funding will pay for food, shelter, clean water, medical supplies and other forms of assistance.

Although many Ukrainian refugees prefer to remain in Europe where they will be closer to family and their homes, the Biden administration is working to expand and develop new programs with a focus on welcoming Ukrainians who have family members in the U.S.

Food shortages have been a major concern as both Russia and Ukraine are top producers of wheat. Biden discussed with other countries Thursday during a meeting in Brussels how to alleviate the issue, with both Canada and the U.S. – also top producers of the crop – discussing how production can be increased.

“It’s going to be real,” Biden said of food disruptions.

The nations also talked about the need to end trade restrictions on sending food abroad, Biden said.

Biden noted the U.S. has provided $1 billion in assistance to Ukraine and, along with American allies, is committed to identifying “additional equipment, including air defense systems, to help Ukraine.” The U.S. is consulting with allies on providing anti-ship missiles to Ukraine, a senior administration official told reporters Thursday.

At a news conference Thursday after meeting with key allies in Brussles, Biden said U.S. weapons are flowing into Ukraine to help the embattled country resist Russia’s invasion.

Speaking to reporters, Biden said the U.S. has committed to provide over $2 billion in military equipment to Ukraine since he became president. Air systems and armor systems ammunitions are flowing into the country “as I speak”, he said.

Meet Ukraine’s volunteer online army

Tens of thousands of ordinary people across Europe have joined a grassroots, pro-democratic mission to fight Russia on social media. They call themselves “elves” because they hunt trolls spreading Russian propaganda and disinformation on Facebook and counter Kremlin conspiracy theories with credible information gathered from allies on the ground in embattled parts of Ukraine.

Their ranks have swelled since the start of the war one month ago as more office workers, doctors, scientists, teachers and IT professionals enlist to stem the flood of pro-Russian falsehoods and conspiracy theories in news feeds.

Ričardas Savukynas, a management consultant from Vilnius, started the underground resistance movement in Lithuania in 2014 during the Ukrainian uprising on Kyiv’s Maidan Square and Russia’s annexation of the Crimea Peninsula.

“The idea is everybody can be an elf simply by fighting against propaganda, against lies,” Savukynas said.