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26 Mar, 2024 08:42

Pentagon’s ‘new’ Ukraine aid package was spent months ago – Politico

$300 million allocated for Kiev in a stopgap US spending bill last week won’t go to new arms shipments, the outlet has said
Pentagon’s ‘new’ Ukraine aid package was spent months ago – Politico

A $300 million spending package for Ukraine approved by the US Congress last week will not provide fresh aid for Kiev because the money was actually spent months ago, Politico reported on Tuesday.

The allocation for Ukraine was part of a $1.2 trillion spending package signed by President Joe Biden on Saturday, which will ensure funding for the US government until October.

The $300 million goes into the Pentagon’s Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), a mechanism used by Washington to funnel arms to Kiev, and which funds contracts for future arms and equipment deliveries. The money, however, “is not available for us to use now” due to how the initiative works, a US official told Politico on condition of anonymity.

In reality, the $300 million for Kiev was obligated back in November, when the Pentagon announced a support package which it said exhausted the remaining USAI funds. The Department of Defense has since reported that an accounting trick allows it to produce another military assistance package worth $300 million under existing authority.

It has reevaluated weapons drawn from its stockpile for Ukraine under a separate mechanism at net book value rather than replacement value, which tends to be higher. The approach, however, leaves a $10 billion hole in the Pentagon budget, since it doesn’t have enough funds to replenish its arsenal, officials admitted this month.

Continued American assistance to Kiev has been stifled by partisan divisions. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is blocking over $60 billion in funding for Ukraine that the White House has been demanding for months.

The additional funds in the stopgap bill were approved by lawmakers this week in a moment of bipartisanship, even if symbolic rather than practical, Politico said.

Speaker Mike Johnson has indicated that a vote on further Ukraine aid may happen after the threat of a government shutdown in 2024 is alleviated. The chamber, however, is currently in recess, meaning any progress is unlikely before April.

Moscow has accused the West of waging a proxy war against Russia, using Ukrainians as cannon fodder. No amount of Western aid will alter the outcome of the conflict, Russian officials have insisted, warning that arms deliveries also stand in the way of a reasonable peace deal.