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23 Apr, 2024 23:14

Biden vows to resume arming Ukraine ‘this week’

The Pentagon could send $1 billion in new aid to Kiev as soon as the US president authorizes a drawdown
Biden vows to resume arming Ukraine ‘this week’

The Pentagon is reportedly ready to send up to $1 billion worth of weapons to Ukraine, once the long-delayed legislation to fund Kiev’s war effort against Moscow is signed by US President Joe Biden.

The $95 billion foreign aid package, including $61 billion for Ukraine, was approved by a 79-18 Senate vote on Tuesday evening, after lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to end a filibuster and advance the measure.

“I will sign this bill into law and address the American people as soon as it reaches my desk tomorrow so we can begin sending weapons and equipment to Ukraine this week,” Biden said in a statement after the vote.

The new aid package will include air defense munitions and large amounts of artillery rounds, as well as armored vehicles and other weapons, several US officials told AP on Tuesday. According to the unnamed sources, some of the items on the list will be shipped “within days,” but others could take longer to deliver.

The Pentagon has neither confirmed nor denied the report of a new package ready to be shipped, but press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told journalists on Tuesday that the US military is “doing everything we can to be poised to respond quickly.”

“I think it’s a good assumption to expect that it’ll include air defense capabilities as well as artillery, ammunition,” Ryder said. “I will say again, that this security assistance package will be based on Ukraine’s most urgent needs.”

Biden told his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky in a phone call on Monday that weapons shipments will begin rapidly after the bill reaches the Oval Office for his signature. While the White House offered few details on the call, the Ukrainian leader claimed that Kiev will receive longer-range ATACMS missiles.

The multibillion-dollar US aid package was requested by the White House months ago but was only passed by the House of Representatives on Saturday, after Speaker Mike Johnson agreed to a vote.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu noted on Tuesday that American military assistance is intended to “prevent the collapse” of Ukrainian forces, but predicted that the money will not significantly impact the situation on the battlefield, since “most of the funding will go to US military production.”

“The American authorities cynically state that Ukrainians will be dying in the fight with Russia for their interests,” Shoigu stated. Officials in both Washington and Kiev have argued that paying Ukraine to fight Russia is preferable to the US having to fight Moscow directly.