US to send Ukraine $300m weapons package even as stockpiles dwindle

Defence officials say they’re waiting for Congress to pass supplemental aid bill to cover $10bn funding gap

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Wednesday 13 March 2024 06:30 GMT
Related video: Zelensky says Ukraine has stopped Russia’s advance

The US will send $300m of weapons to Ukraine even as $10bn is needed to restore the stockpiles of weapons it has sent to Kyiv to aid them in its fight against the years-long Russian invasion.

The Pentagon located some cost savings in its contracts to find the funds for the weapons package while Congress has so far failed to pass further aid.

Senior defence officials made the revelation on Tuesday. It’s the first weapons package announced since late last year when the Pentagon said it was out of funding to send more weapons to the wartorn country.

More recently, officials have revealed the $10bn overdraft. The funds used to replenish stockpiles have meant that the Pentagon has been able to send existing munitions, and air defence systems, in addition to other weapons from reserve inventories using a presidential drawdown authority to send weapons to Ukraine and subsequently order new weapons to replenish the stores.

A defence official told the press that the new package was a “one-time shot” until Congress passes further Ukraine aid, as proposed in a $60bn supplemental aid bill, or until further cost cuttings are located.

The official said that the new package is set to include anti-aircraft missiles, artillery rounds, and armour systems.

On Tuesday, Polish President Andrzej Duda met congressional leaders from both parties and he was also set to meet President Joe Biden as part of an effort to get the US aid process going even as House Republicans dig their heels in against further aid.

Despite it being likely to pass the lower chamber, House Speaker Mike Johnson has refused to bring the $95bn package, which also includes aid for Israel and Taiwan, to the floor. Democrats are attempting to force a vote using a discharge petition, an effort with long odds of success and would need a majority – 218 members – to back it.

While Russia has plenty of supplies as it’s transformed into a war economy, Ukrainian forces are now rationing munitions on the front lines as they attempt to hang on.

Republicans have argued that the US southern border needs to be secured before any aid can be sent to Ukraine, but they recently rejected a bipartisan border bill after former President Donald Trump came out against it.

On Monday, defence officials said they were waiting on the supplemental to cover the $10bn hole in the budget.

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said, “If we don’t get the $10 billion we would have to find other means”.

“Right now we’re very much focused on the need for that supplemental,” she added.

In June last year, the Pentagon also suddenly found extra funds for Ukraine after it said it had overestimated previous weapons shipments to the country by $6.2bn.

The US has sent more than $44.2bn of aid to Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion. The Director of the CIA William Burns has told Congress that Ukrainian units have told him that they were down to their last dozens of artillery shells and other kinds of ammunition. He added that the recent Ukrainian withdrawal from the eastern city of Avdiika was caused by resupply failures, not a lack of Ukrainian willpower.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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