White House signals lack of funding to support Ukraine – National

The White House suggested Friday that it was running out of funds available to support Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion, once again calling on Congress to approve more.

Earlier Friday, the Biden administration announced it would send an additional $425 million in additional weapons and equipment to Ukraine. Most of the money – about $300 million – comes from the $18 billion Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which funds contracts for weapons built or modified by defense companies.

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed that the new aid package “depletes the remaining USAI funds currently available to support Ukraine.

The package also includes approximately $125 million in weapons and equipment through the Presidential Withdrawal Authority (PDA), which removes weapons from existing U.S. stockpiles. But Jean-Pierre suggested that these funds are also running out.

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“(Although) we still have PDA authorities to continue to meet Ukraine’s immediate battlefield needs, we are beginning to provide Ukraine with smaller PDA packages to expand our ability to support the “Ukraine for as long as possible,” she said. according to a transcript of the conversation provided by the White House.

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The Biden administration still has about $5 billion in withdrawal authorization granted by Congress, after the Pentagon discovered in June that it had overestimated the value of weapons shipped to Ukraine. due to a $6.2 billion accounting error.

US President Joe Biden last month called on Congress to pass a nearly $106 billion emergency aid package, including $61.4 billion for Ukraine, as well as smaller amounts for Israel, security in the Indo-Pacific, protection and respect of the border between the United States and Mexico and humanitarian assistance. aid to Gaza and elsewhere.

The Republican-led House of Representatives passed a $14.3 billion military aid bill to Israel on Thursday, matching Biden’s request for that country but ignoring other priorities. The bill, which offsets the aid with cuts in government spending, is unlikely to pass.

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New U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson said he plans to quickly introduce an aid package for Ukraine that would also include funding for border security. However, he has not yet specified how much his Republican caucus would seek to approve.

The White House and Democratic-led Senate have urged Johnson and House Republicans to agree to Biden’s initial request, which Jean-Pierre reiterated on Friday.

“The Ukrainian people are on the front lines in the fight for freedom and democracy as we head into what will likely be another brutal winter full of Russian attacks,” she said.

“It is critical that Congress sends an important message to the world about America’s resolve and takes action to enact the President’s additional national security request and show (Russian President) Vladimir Putin and the rest of the world that the United States continues to stand firmly with Ukraine.”

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Biden and his administration have sought to establish a clear link between Russia’s soon-to-be invasion of Ukraine two years ago and Hamas’ deadly attack on Israel on October 7. Hamas and Putin, they said, aim to “destroy a neighboring democracy” and conflicts risk spreading to other countries.

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Since the Russian invasion in February 2022, the United States has sent approximately $44 billion in security aid to Ukraine. A growing number of Republicans, particularly in the House, have expressed opposition to further increasing that number.

Johnson told Fox News last week that Congress would not abandon kyiv, but added that he wanted to determine the Biden administration’s “endgame” for the war.

Experts have repeatedly said that Ukraine was unlikely to emerge victorious from the war without U.S. military aid, which far exceeded weapons and equipment provided by Europe and other Western allies.

In recent days, Ukraine has reported an increasing number of Russian missile strikes targeting residential buildings and infrastructure.

Last winter, Russia targeted Ukraine’s power grid in a bid to deprive civilians of light and heat and undermine the country’s appetite for war – a strategy Ukrainian officials have said Moscow would repeat. year.

The White House said Friday’s latest aid package included munitions for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS), as well as shells for artillery, anti-tank missiles, demolition equipment and measures against the cold. gear.

Ukraine will also receive new laser-guided munitions to shoot down Russian drones supplied by Iran.

—with files from Associated Press and Reuters

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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