US aid to Ukraine and when it could run out, explained | ET REALITY


Billions of dollars in US military and economic aid have allowed Ukraine to defend itself from the Russian invasion, but the future of that support is now in serious doubt.

Congress approved a tentative deal last month to keep the federal government open, but excluded a request from President Biden to give Ukraine another round of funding. As the House of Representatives decides who will be its next president, some Republicans oppose sending more money to kyiv.

Biden has said for months that the United States will support Ukraine’s fight against Russia “for as long as it takes.” But it can’t offer that guarantee because congressional approval is required for future aid injections.

Administration officials warn that aid is critical to Ukraine’s survival and say they are studying options should Congress halt or reduce U.S. support for the country.

Congress has approved about $113 billion in response to Russia’s large-scale invasion in February 2022.

Nearly $62 billion of that amount went to the Department of Defense. Another $32.5 billion has been allocated to the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Most of the rest has been funneled to the State Department, along with other departments and agencies, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Not all the money has been spent directly in Ukraine. Some of this has helped strengthen other European countries against further military aggression, political interference and disinformation campaigns from Russia.

And some has gone to cover increased spending at the Defense Department for things like new deployments of U.S. troops to Europe.

Militarily, Ukraine has some breathing room: Under previous spending bills passed by Congress, Biden can still draw about $5.6 billion in materiel from military reserves (mainly thanks to a Pentagon accounting error that overvalued aid already has been assigned to Ukraine).

For context, a $500 million reduction in June was enough to fund Bradley and Stryker vehicles, air defense munitions, artillery, multiple launch rocket systems, anti-tank weapons, anti-radiation missiles and precision aerial munitions, according to the Department of State.

And a pause in new funding does not affect existing Pentagon contracts under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. That means new weapons and equipment will continue to be sent to Ukraine in the coming months and years.

In May, the Department of Defense reported that $5.6 billion had been contracted to produce items for Ukraine such as HIMARS missiles, tactical vehicles, radars, ammunition and many others.

“Congress’ inability to fund a new package at this time does not immediately turn off the spigot on Ukraine because many billions in defense aid are already on the way for medium- and long-term contracts,” said Eric Ciaramella, former director of the Council. of National Security. for Ukraine, which is now a senior member of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “And so, even in a scenario where Congress is unable to fund a new package, US defense support for Ukraine will continue.”

Economic and humanitarian aid could be a bigger concern. It is unclear whether the Biden administration has any funds left that it can tap to support Ukraine’s federal budget and meet the needs of the country’s millions of refugees. The U.S. Agency for International Development did not respond to a request for comment.

U.S. and European officials say Europe could make up for some lack of capacity, particularly for economic and humanitarian needs, if U.S. aid runs out completely.

But Europe would find it difficult to match the United States’ ability to quickly produce large quantities of weapons.

“We cannot achieve this without a strong American commitment,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former NATO secretary general, said in an interview last week.

That’s a question administration officials have been debating in recent days. Biden could call for more modest incremental spending measures that might be easier for Congress to accept. Or, to avoid recurring political battles, he could choose to go for a much larger aid package that could sustain Ukraine for many months, potentially even until the 2024 US presidential election.

The path forward depends in part on how House Republicans resolve the political infighting that led to the ouster of Kevin McCarthy as speaker on Tuesday. Some of the Republicans who unseated McCarthy said he was too supportive of Ukraine spending. And at least one leading candidate to replace him, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, has said that as president he would not bring a Ukraine financing bill to the House floor.

It’s possible that Biden could persuade people like Jordan to act by making his own political concessions, for example, heeding some Republican demands for tougher measures to limit undocumented migration across the U.S.-Mexico border. Overall, the Senate is more supportive of spending to defend Ukraine.

Congress has given the Biden administration considerable flexibility over when and how it can spend the $113 billion it has been allocated.

The United States has spent almost $44 billion on military aid to Ukraine, according to the State Department.

Biden has used a power known as the Presidential Drawdown Authority dozens of times to quickly send weapons to Ukraine. That allows the Pentagon to ship artillery shells, armored vehicles, missiles and other equipment from U.S. military reserves. The Pentagon then contracts with domestic weapons manufacturers to replenish its supplies, using money appropriated by Congress.

The Department of Defense has also issued contracts for the manufacture of new weapons and ammunition for Ukraine under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.

The United States has sent huge sums to keep Ukraine’s government afloat amid the economic disruption caused by the Russian invasion. The US Agency for International Development has spent more than $13 billion on so-called direct budget support for Ukraine. That money, funneled through the World Bank, has allowed kyiv to finance things like pensions, schools and other basic services during the economic strains of the war.

Public support for Ukraine’s spending has been eroding over time. A CNN poll In August, he found that a majority of Americans opposed sending more aid to the country.

Ukraine’s surprisingly brave defense against Russia and subsequent evidence of Russian war atrocities significantly united American public opinion to kyiv’s side. But after 20 months, the war appears to be reaching a stalemate.

Several Republican presidential candidates, including former President Donald J. Trump, insist the money for Ukraine would be better spent on domestic priorities such as border control.

Arguments over U.S. spending priorities surrounding the budget deal in Congress last week brought the issue to a head.

Eric Schmitt contributed with reports.

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