Ukrainian soldiers move ammunition last year on the outskirts of Chasiv Yar, in Donetsk Oblast.

Ukrainian soldiers move ammunition last year on the outskirts of Chasiv Yar, in Donetsk Oblast. (Ed Ram/The Washington Post)

The Pentagon has a massive infusion of military aid for Ukraine “ready to go,” U.S. officials said, once a long-delayed funding measure, which is expected to pass the House this weekend, clears the Senate next week and President Biden signs it into law.

The Defense Department, which has warned that Ukraine would steadily cede more ground to Russian forces and face staggering casualties without urgent action on Capitol Hill, began assembling the assistance package well before the coming votes in a bid to speed the process, these people said.

One official, who like some others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the Biden administration’s planning, said that once the $95 billion foreign aid bill is finalized, it would take less than a week for some of the weapons to reach the battlefield, depending on where they are stored. The legislation includes about $60 billion for Ukraine, with most of the remainder slated for Israel and U.S. partners in Asia.

It was not immediately clear how expansive the package will be, though it is almost certain to contain desperately needed ammunition for systems Ukrainian personnel rely on most, including 155mm shells used in NATO howitzers and munitions for medium-range rocket artillery. Since the war began, individual U.S. transfers have ranged in value from hundreds of millions of dollars to more than $2 billion.

As the aid bill languished in Congress for months, officials in Washington and in Kyiv said Ukraine’s front-line units were rationing a rapidly evaporating stockpile of armaments and that soon Moscow would have a 10-to-1 advantage in artillery rounds.

It is also probable the Pentagon will provide Ukraine with a fresh tranche of air defense equipment and ammunition, a vital need to combat Russia’s relentless campaign against the country’s civilian infrastructure. NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday he was convening with allies to discuss ways to bolster such capabilities, with a focus on the high-end Patriot system.

A Pentagon spokesman, Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder, declined to comment. News of the planned transfer was reported earlier by Politico.

The United States has provided nearly $45 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since early 2022, when Russian President Vladimir Putin launched Moscow’s full-scale invasion. Its last aid package, totaling $300 million, was prepared in March after the Pentagon identified “unanticipated cost savings” in recent arms contracts - an outlier after congressionally approved funding dried up last year and an intense political fight followed President Biden’s request for more.

U.S. Air Force personnel in Dover, Del., move pallets of explosive charges for 155mm artillery ammunition bound for Ukraine in October 2022.

U.S. Air Force personnel in Dover, Del., move pallets of explosive charges for 155mm artillery ammunition bound for Ukraine in October 2022. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)

U.S. support for the Ukraine war has bitterly divided the Republican Party, with House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) delaying consideration of the funding bill as he navigated strident opposition from far-right members of his caucus. With the help of Democrats, on Friday he muscled through a procedural measure that sets the stage for this weekend’s vote, though doing so could cost him his leadership post.

In Ukraine, officials have growing increasingly frustrated by Washington’s paralysis as the battlefield situation has worsened due to ammunition and personnel shortages.

In February, Ukrainian forces retreated from the eastern city of Avdiivka, ceding significant territory to the Russians for the first time in almost a year - a decision Ukrainian officials blamed on limited resources. Across the front line, Ukrainian troops are facing such severe ammunition shortages that they are rationing shells, leaving artillery units unable to protect the infantry by striking deeper into Russian-controlled territory to halt Russian advances.

Russia has seized on these weaknesses, first in Avdiivka and more recently by pushing toward the town of Chasiv Yar, outside of Bakhmut. Aware Ukraine is also running low on air defenses, Russia has launched repeated missile and drone strikes on major cities and Ukrainian energy infrastructure, destroying energy facilities across the country, straining the electrical grid and stirring panic in residential areas. Again and again, Ukrainian officials have begged publicly for air defense they said could have prevented these strikes.

Then this week, Russia struck the northern city of Chernihiv and the eastern city of Dnipro and surrounding villages, killing dozens of people and badly damaging infrastructure. Both attacks could have been averted, Ukrainian officials said, if Ukraine had the air defense supplies it needs.

After the attacks, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, pointed to what they called the double standard in the United States and other Western allies assisting Israel in intercepting Iranian missiles and drones last week while failing to adequately help Ukraine, which is under fire each day.

“American support has been in question for too long,” Zelensky said Friday, addressing the Ukraine-NATO Council. “When it comes to the defense of freedom, everything that is in question gives a clear answer to Putin. It prompts him to act whenever the West slows down.”

O’Grady reported from Kyiv. Dan Lamothe contributed to this report.

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