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29 Feb, 2024 04:20

Pentagon preparing its last $4 billion for Ukraine – CNN

A new $60 billion aid package for Kiev faces gridlock in Congress amid Republican opposition
Pentagon preparing its last $4 billion for Ukraine – CNN

The US military is considering whether to draw on its last remaining funds allocated for Ukraine, even with no assurances the money will be replaced by lawmakers amid fierce debate over renewed aid, multiple officials have told CNN.

While the Pentagon previously explained that the funds could not be used until Congress authorized new spending, officials are now searching for an internal “financial cushion” that would allow it to use its last $4 billion for arming Kiev, the outlet reported on Wednesday.

Unnamed defense officials stressed that no final decision had been made, but suggested the military was reviewing its options as Ukrainian forces face major setbacks on the battlefield.

Asked about the possibility of tapping into the $4 billion fund ahead of new appropriations, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Garron Garn told CNN that the Defense Department “continues to urge Congress to pass a supplemental to support Ukraine in its time of need and to replenish our stocks.”

Though $60 billion in aid for Ukraine was approved by the Senate earlier this month, House Republicans have stalled the legislation for weeks, demanding major reforms to US border policy to stem the flow of illegal immigration. Even after meeting with President Joe Biden and congressional leaders this week, Speaker Mike Johnson has refused to put the bill to a vote, leaving its fate uncertain.

During a press briefing last month, Pentagon press secretary Gen. Patrick Ryder highlighted concerns about drawing on the remaining aid before new spending is approved, saying it was a “question of impacting our own readiness as a nation.”

“So, yes, while we do have that $4.2 billion in authority, we don’t have the funds available to us to replenish those stocks should we expend that. And with no timeline in sight, we have to make those hard decisions,” he added.

While Washington quickly became Kiev’s top backer after Russia launched its military operation in 2022, US assistance all but ground to a halt after Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive failed to make any significant gains. Ukrainian officials have called for additional arms throughout the conflict, with President Vladimir Zelensky reportedly warning last week that his country would “surely lose the war” without continued US support.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that foreign weapons transfers would only prolong the fighting without deterring its military aims, stating that Western-supplied arms would “burn” on the battlefield.

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