Pentagon approves new $150M aid package for Ukraine, urges Congress to authorize more
Stars and Stripes October 26, 2023
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon on Thursday announced another shipment of military weapons and equipment for Ukraine as Congress faces a deadline to authorize more aid to help the country in its war with Russia.
The new aid is worth $150 million and includes mostly air-defense equipment, missiles, small-arms ammunition and various other maintenance and logistical items, the Defense Department said. Like most previous aid packages to Ukraine, the new tranche is being sent through presidential drawdown authority, which allows the Pentagon to take equipment and weapons from U.S. military stocks and send them to Europe on an emergency basis.
Though Congress has not yet authorized fiscal 2024 funding for the Defense Department, the Pentagon still has a couple billion dollars in drawdown authority that can be spent on aid to Ukraine. Once those funds run out, however, federal lawmakers would need to approve more.
The drawdown funds would have already run out if it wasn’t for an accounting error that the Pentagon uncovered in June that opened an additional $6.2 billion. The department had overestimated costs for missiles, ammunition and other equipment and that resulted in the unexpected surplus. The other main option for sending equipment, the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, has already run out of money, military officials said.
In its new aid announcement, the Defense Department called on Congress to quickly authorize more funds for Ukraine. Military officials and President Joe Biden have said recently that the United States can afford to send aid to Ukraine as well as help Israel, which is now engaged in a war with the militant group Hamas.
“Security assistance for Ukraine is a smart investment in our national security. It helps to prevent a larger conflict in the region and deter potential aggression elsewhere, while strengthening our defense industrial base and creating highly skilled jobs for the American people,” the Pentagon said in a statement Thursday. “The Biden administration calls on Congress to meet its commitment to the people of Ukraine by passing additional funding to ensure Ukraine continues to have what it needs to defend itself.”
Congress must pass funding for 2024 by Nov. 17 to avoid a government shutdown after lawmakers agreed to a 45-day stopgap spending measure when the new fiscal year began Oct. 1.
Thursday’s aid package is smaller than previous rounds of Ukrainian assistance. A package last month was worth $325 million and another in July was worth $400 million. Biden has so far committed roughly $44 billion in security aid to Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in February 2022.
Included in Thursday’s new Ukrainian security package:
Additional munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems.
AIM-9M missiles for air defense and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.
More ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.
155mm and 105mm artillery rounds.
Tube-Launched, Optically Tracked, Wire-Guided missiles.
Javelin anti-armor systems.
More than 2 million rounds of small arms ammunition.
Night vision devices.
Demolition munitions for obstacle clearing.
Cold weather gear.
Spare parts, maintenance and other ancillary equipment.