US preparing new $1.1bn arms package for Ukraine as referendum held in east
The United States is preparing a new $1.1 billion arms package for Ukraine as several eastern Ukrainian regions have voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to join Russia.
The package, which includes HIMARS launcher systems and counter drone and radar systems, will be the latest installment in US lethal aid and weaponry for Ukraine amid its fights with Russia.
According to Press TV after a five-day referendum, several Ukrainian regions voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining Russia.
The voting was held in Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as well as the southern region of Kherson, and the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia.
The regional officials there said huge majorities have voted in favor of integration into Russia, Reuters reported.
Kiev and its Western allies described the votes as "sham", with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky saying he would rule out negotiation with Russia after the referendum.
US President Joe Biden also condemned the referendums and vowed the United States would never recognize the results.
According to the officials, 99.23 of the voters in Donetsk, 98.42 percent in Luhansk, 87.05 percent in Kherson, and around 93 percent of residents in Zaporizhzhia approved of their regions' integration into Russia.
The vote harked back to a similar referendum held in 2014, during which Ukraine's Crimea peninsula voted to join Russia.
Besides the new $1.1 billion American arms package, the United States has also approved sending Ukraine a total of eight National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) so far.
The arms are part of a larger, more than $15 billion US "security assistance" to Ukraine since Russia began its military operation on Feb. 24.