US gives Ukraine year’s final weapons package as Biden administration exhausts funding
Washington: The US State Department has announced this year’s final package of weapons and equipment to aid Ukraine, exhausting existing funding still at the Joe Biden administration’s disposal.
The arms and equipment in the package are worth up to $250 million and are being provided “under previously directed drawdowns for Ukraine”, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Capabilities provided in today’s package include air defence munitions, other air defence system components, additional ammunition for high mobility artillery rocket systems, 155mm and 105mm artillery ammunition, anti-armour munitions, and over 15 million rounds of ammunition,” Blinken was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.
Assistance packages such as this just-announced one fall under the Presidential Drawdown Authority, which allows weapons to be pulled directly from the stocks of the Department of Defense so that they can be delivered to Ukraine in a swift manner.
The US has already used up funds from another form of assistance for Ukraine, the congressionally-appropriated Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which enables the Department of Defense to purchase weapons for Kiev by signing contracts with arms manufacturers.
In his statement, Blinken reiterated the urgent need for Congress to get their work done. “It is imperative that Congress act swiftly, as soon as possible, to advance our national security interests by helping Ukraine defend itself and secure its future,” he said.
Warning that the funding Congress previously approved for providing assistance to Ukraine would soon dry up, the Biden administration said last week that lacking lawmakers’ renewed commitment to further appropriation meeting the White House’s over 60-billion-dollar supplemental budget request for Ukraine, the administration would be able to announce but one additional package for Kiev before year’s end.
“We are still planning one more aid package to Ukraine later this month,” John Kirby, the National Security Council’s Coordinator for Strategic Communications, told reporters on December 18.
“However, when that one’s done … we will have no more replenishment authority available to us, and we’re going to need Congress to act without delay, as we have been saying,” Kirby said.
On Capitol Hill, Republicans are withholding their votes for new money for Ukraine, conditioning their approval on Democrats making a compromise to satisfy the GOP’s demand for tighter control measures on the border to keep incoming migrants at bay.
Since the Russia-Ukraine conflict broke out in February 2022, the US has committed more than $44.2 billion in military aid to Ukraine, the Pentagon said in a fact sheet published on Wednesday.