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US to send new weapons package worth $300 million for Ukraine

REUTERS
Wednesday, Mar 13, 2024

WASHINGTON: The United States will send a new military aid package for Ukraine worth $300 million, President Joe Biden’s administration said on Tuesday, the first such move in months as additional funds for Kyiv remain blocked by Republican leaders in Congress.

The White House has been scrambling to find ways to send more military assistance given the situation on the battlefield and the resistance to the funding from Republican hardliners.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the funding was coming from unanticipated cost savings from Pentagon contracts and would be used for artillery rounds and munitions for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).

“This ammunition will keep Ukraine’s guns firing for a period, but only a short period,” Sullivan told reporters, adding it may only be helpful to Ukraine for a couple of weeks.

“It is nowhere near enough to meet Ukraine’s battlefield needs and it will not prevent Ukraine from running out of ammunition,” Sullivan said.

The new weapons package was first reported by Reuters earlier on Tuesday.

Pentagon Press Secretary Major General Pat Ryder said the package included anti-aircraft missiles and artillery rounds. He said providing weapons to Ukraine through Pentagon contract savings was likely a one-time situation and not a sustainable way of funding Kyiv.The last drawdown was in December 2023 when funds to replenish stocks fell to zero.

US officials have also looked at options for seizing some $285 billion in Russian assets immobilized in 2022 and using the money to pay for Ukraine weaponry.

The announcement came as Poland’s president and prime minister meet President Joe Biden at the White House later on Tuesday to talk about ways to bolster support for Ukraine.

“Financial support for Ukraine is cheap considering what the other support could be,” Polish President Andrzej Duda told reporters.

Using the funds that have been returned to replenish stocks opens a narrow window to allow more aid to be sent from existing stocks as the Biden administration waits for supplemental funding to be passed by lawmakers.

Biden, a Democrat, has backed military aid to Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022, while his likely Republican opponent in the Nov 5 US election, former President Donald Trump, has a more isolationist stance.