WASHINGTON – The US will send Ukraine up to $300 million worth of much-needed military equipment, the first aid tranche to be dispatched to the war-torn nation in more than two months, the White House announced on Tuesday.

The materiel — to be sent to Kyiv amid an impasse in the House over continued assistance — will include anti-aircraft missiles, ammunition, artillery rounds and “some anti-armor systems” from US stockpiles, senior defense officials told reporters at the Pentagon.

While President Biden still has the congressional authority to send another $4.4 billion worth of military aid from US stocks, Congress has not approved funds to replace any weapons without the passage of a $95 billion supplemental spending bill that includes roughly $60 billion for Ukraine and is stalled in the House.

The $300 million comes from savings the Pentagon was able to identify in its Ukraine-aid budget, according to the officials, including through a number of price-saving deals reached with contractors in the form of bulk orders.

“When we sent Ukraine weapons last year, we negotiated contracts to replenish those weapons in US stockpiles [and] budgeted the full amount of appropriated funds for those contracts,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters at the White House Tuesday. “It turns out we negotiated well, and those contracts came in under budget, so we have a modest amount of funding available.”

“In this case, we are not digging the hole deeper – we’re staying even – while recognizing that Ukraine is in a very tough spot at this moment,” one of the defense officials said. “This is not necessarily an easy call, but you’ve got a situation where we are short on funding – they are short on ammunition.”

The Ukrainian military has been forced to husband resources after more than two months without additional US aid. Kyiv’s forces have been forced to cut back on artillery strikes, saving what precious little ammunition remains to get the biggest boom for the buck – literally.

One Ukrainian artillery unit commander told The Post on the frontlines last week that his troops have been forced to ignore small groups of Russian soldiers in order to target large clusters of fighters.

“Artillery resolves the main problems – they can provide cover for our infantry in [the] battlefield because it is very precise and we can destroy enemy infantry and some vehicles like tanks,” the commander told The Post. “It saves the lives of our soldiers.”

Sullivan warned that “we’re already seeing the effects on the battlefield” from Ukraine’s forced rationing of ammunition.

“When Russian troops advance and its guns fire, Ukraine does not have enough ammunition to fire back,” he said. “That’s costing terrain, it’s costing lives, and it’s costing us the United States and the NATO alliance strategically.”

Sullivan added that the package announced Tuesday would only be enough to sustain Ukraine”s forces for “maybe even just a couple of weeks.”

“The world is watching, the clock is ticking and we need to see action as rapidly as possible, even as we do everything in our power to get Ukraine what it needs in its hour of need,” he said.  “The House has got to pass the supplemental as soon as possible to allow us to continue the flow of vital security assistance to Ukraine, to replenish the US military’s munitions stocks, to invest in our industrial base and to support jobs in 40 states across the United States.”

Ukraine’s dwindling supply of artillery was part of the calculus in shoe-stringing together a new package without additional funding, the defense officials said before cautioning that such financial gymnastics will not likely be possible again.

“There was an imperative to act and we had on our side – an ability to help the secretary [of defense Lloyd Austin] and the president – with a way to at least cover the cost of this one package,” an official said. “But that’s this one package. It’s not a fountain of money that is going to sustain us.”

While the officials said the Pentagon is “confident” there are enough votes in the House to secure additional funding for Ukraine, House Speaker Mike Johnson’s continuing hold on sending the bill for a floor vote is causing troubling unpredictability.

“Given that [Austin] has expressed his concerns about doing any more drawdowns – because we have the ability to move funds out of our stocks but without the ability to replenish them,” an official said, “we are putting our own readiness at some risk.”

Share.
2024 © Network Today. All Rights Reserved.