Joe Biden on Tuesday told assembly-line workers at an Alabama factory that the weapons they are crafting are going into “the hands of Ukrainian heroes” on the front lines of the effort to repel Russian forces.
The US president praised the employees of the Lockheed Martin plant that manufactures Javelin anti-tank missiles, saying their work was critical to the Ukrainian war effort and to the defense of democracy itself.
“You’re making a gigantic difference for these poor sons-of-guns who are under such enormous pressure and firepower,” Biden told the workers from a podium flanked by the Javelin missile launchers.
From a sprawling compound in Troy, Alabama, to the battlefields in Ukraine, the anti-tank missiles have helped equip the Ukrainian forces, the president said.
“You’re making it possible for the Ukrainian people to defend themselves, without us having to risk getting into a third world war by sending in American soldiers fighting Russian soldiers,” Biden said, adding of the Ukrainian military: “Quite frankly, they’re making fools of the Russian military in many instances.”
Speaking after a tour of the factory line, Biden urged Congress to approve an additional $33bn in aid for Ukraine as the besieged nation continues to battle Russian forces in the east and south.
Biden said that funds spent on bolstering Ukrainian security so far was “a direct investment in defending freedom and democracy itself”.
He then added: “Because if you don’t stand up to dictators, history has shown us, they keep coming. Their appetite for power continues to grow.”
Nodding to concerns from some lawmakers that the steady flow of weapons to Ukraine has depleted US stockpiles, he said the assistance includes funding to “replenish our own stock of weapons to replace what we’ve sent to Ukraine”.
“This fight is not going to be cheap," hy het gesê. “But caving to aggression would even be more costly.”
Support for Ukraine has largely been approved on a bipartisan basis. But the latest request, which includes $20bn for security and military assistance, represents a significant increase in the US’s investment in the effort to defeat Russia in Ukraine.
Demand for the Javelin missiles remains high. According to US and Nato officials, Ukrainian forces have used the system to devastating effect against Russian tanks and artillery since the conflict began in late February.
Sover, the US has transferred over 5,000 Javelin missiles to Ukraine from US stocks and nearly 500 more from allies and partners, according to the White House. Lockheed jointly produces the weapons with Raytheon Technologies, which separately produces Stingers.
The Alabama facility Biden toured employees approximately 600 workers and is capable of producing roughly 2,100 Javelin missiles per year.
Biden also called on Congress to quickly pass the Bipartisan Innovation Act, a sprawling legislative package designed to boost US competitiveness with China by bolstering American manufacturing and strengthening supply chains.
On the tour, Biden said he learned that each Javelin requires more than 200 semiconductors, the production of which have been strained by pandemic-era supply shortages.
Boosting American production of semiconductors, hy het gesê, was not only a vital step toward rebuilding domestic manufacturing and lowering the cost of goods, but critical for national security.