US to provide new $200 million aid for Kyiv as future funding in doubt

AFP , Wednesday 11 Oct 2023

Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said Wednesday that the United States will provide a new $200 million military assistance package for Ukraine, as opposition from hardline Republican lawmakers puts future aid for Kyiv in doubt.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy with Lloyd Austin
Ukraine s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, and United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin address the Ukraine Defense Contact Group during a meeting of NATO defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. AP

 

"I'm proud that the United States will announce its latest security assistance package for Ukraine, valued at $200 million," Austin said alongside President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the opening of a meeting of Kyiv's international supporters in Brussels.

The package includes air defense munitions, artillery and rocket ammunition, and anti-tank weapons, among other items, the US defense chief said.

It is the first package announced since Congress dropped new funding for Kyiv from a recent bill to avert a US government shutdown, a move that called into doubt Washington's continued commitment to aiding Ukraine's fight against invading Russian forces.

Austin nonetheless insisted Wednesday, as he has before, that the United States "will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes."

Even in the absence of further action by Congress, the US government still has the authority to withdraw more than $5 billion in equipment for Ukraine from American military stocks.

A senior US official said there is no immediate cause for alarm when it comes to Ukraine's assistance.

"Even if we do have... some difficulties we have to work out within the US Congress, there is a lot of money there to still sustain the pace of support that we're accustomed to, and then allies are stepping forward with their own announcements," the official told journalists in Brussels.

"Zelensky's visit really couldn't have come at a better moment in a way, particularly if our goal is to signal continued support for Ukraine, even though there are challenges... within the US system."

Washington is by far the biggest donor of military aid to Kyiv, and a cut to American assistance would be a major blow to Ukraine as it presses ahead with a slow-moving counteroffensive and readies for the second winter of the war.

Austin said the United States has committed some $43.9 billion in security assistance since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, while all other donors have promised more than $33 billion.

"I continue to firmly believe that our support for the forces of freedom in Ukraine will hold fast in any season or any storm," he said.

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