President Biden has announced a new batch of military aid weapons packages bound for Ukraine as the war in the country’s eastern Donbas region begins to intensify. The security assistance package will include “additional artillery munitions, radars, and other equipment.”
“Today, the United States is continuing our strong support for the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their country against Russia’s ongoing aggression,” Biden said in a White House release on May 6, 2022.
This is the 9th installment of US military aid to Ukraine and is worth around $150 million. An unnamed Pentagon official disclosed that the batch of weapons includes 25,000 155mm artillery rounds, electronic disruption equipment, field equipment, and three AN/TPQ-36 counter-artillery radars.
“The United States has provided a historic amount of security assistance to Ukraine at rapid speed. We are sending the weapons and equipment that Congress has authorized directly to the front lines of freedom in Ukraine.”
The pledge, which amounts to $150 million, was pooled from the $250 million left in Biden’s presidential drawdown authority power bestowed upon the president to consign surplus weapons and equipment from the US arsenal without the need for congressional approval.
In his statement, Biden noted that his drawdown funding is close to depletion and urged Congress to approve his additional budget request swiftly.
“My Administration has nearly exhausted funding that can be used to send security assistance through drawdown authorities for Ukraine. For Ukraine to succeed in this next phase of war… the U.S. must continue to demonstrate our unity and our resolve to keep the weapons and ammunition flowing to Ukraine, without interruption,” Biden said.
“Congress should quickly provide the requested funding to strengthen Ukraine on the battlefield and at the negotiating table,” he added.
The term “drawdown authority” relates to President Biden sending weapons and ammunition from the stock held in inventory by the US military for its own use in times of war or conflict.
Last month, Biden requested a whopping $33 billion in further funding to help supply Ukraine with both humanitarian and military support. It included $20.4 billion set aside, particularly for military assistance and expanding efforts to enhance US presence in Europe.
Since the start of the invasion in late February, the US has deployed over 100,000 soldiers to countries within the borders of NATO. The alliance has also stationed over 140 battleships and 130 aircraft on high alert.
Another good chunk of the requested budget, specifically $8.5 billion, is intended for the Ukrainian economy. The total is intended to help counter Russian propaganda campaigns, support basic services to the Ukrainian people, and ensure that President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government continues to function.
The package also came with proposed resolutions on several criminal laws that would allow US authorities to liquidate assets retrieved from Russian oligarchs.
“We either back the Ukrainian people as they defend their country, or we stand by as the Russians continue their atrocities and aggression in Ukraine every day,” Biden said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Congress is aware of the dire need for more funding for Ukraine but has not yet given a probable date on when it will pass.
“I think we will be able to do it as quickly as possible,” Pelosi said. “We are very current on the needs and the urgency and, again, we will have bipartisanship as we go forward with it.”
She also has acknowledged that Biden’s request will likely pass this month, saying, “I think we have to.”
Pelosi also called for the US government to hand Russia the official designation as a state that sponsors terrorism due to the alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes the Russian forces may have committed during the invasion.
“If Russia is not listed as a state sponsor of terrorism, tear up the list,” she said.
Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield weighed in on the issue of Russia being on the list of countries that engage in state-sponsored terrorism during CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper.
She was asked by Tapper whether Thomas-Greenfield would either tear up the list or not.
“Well, I think Russia has put itself on that list of state sponsors of terror,” she said.
“They are carrying out terror acts against the Ukrainian people, against Ukrainian civilians. You just mentioned they attacked a school with 90 people. Imagine the terror that these people felt as the school was being attacked. So they have defined their role on that list. It’s not necessary for us to put them on,” she explained.
The ambassador was referring to the recent bombing of a school in the Luhansk region where 90 people had been taking cover. Estimates reveal that 60 out of the 90 inhabitants had been instantly killed.
“We have called out the Russians very early on for committing war crimes, and this contributes to that. We’re going to continue to work with the Ukrainian prosecutors and others to document evidence of their war crimes so that they can be held accountable. This just adds to the long list that we already have,” she answered when asked if the bombing was a war crime.
Biden’s surmountable expenditure on Ukraine and U.S. interests in Europe enjoy rare bipartisan support. However, the $33 billion requests have been caught in legislative limbo as lawmakers argue over $10 billion for COVID-19 vaccines and treatment included in the package.