March 13, 2024


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US sending Ukraine $300 million in weapons despite lacking funds to replenish its own stockpiles

The Pentagon announced Tuesday it is sending around $300 million in weapons to Ukraine to help the beleaguered country in its ongoing fight against Russia.  

The security package is the Pentagon’s first for Ukraine since December, when it acknowledged it was out of replenishment funds, being deeply overdrawn and needing at least $10 billion to replenish all the weapons it has pulled from its stocks to help Kyiv.

Asked Tuesday to explain how the U.S. was able to scrounge up the aid, Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said it was the result of the Department of Defense negotiating contracts to replenish those weapons in U.S. stockpiles. 

‘Because of those negotiations, we budgeted the full amount of appropriated funds for those contracts. But because of those negotiations, those contracts came in under budget. And so we have a modest amount of funding available,’ Ryder said, acknowledging that the DOD was still out of ‘replenishment funds.’ 

‘We’re able to use these cost savings to make up this modest amount of new security assistance available right now without significantly impacting military readiness because of the situation in Ukraine,’ Ryder added. ‘Obviously, they are in an existential fight. They have an urgent need for help. So, this is a way we can provide a small amount of assistance urgently right now.’ 

He could not say when the aid would arrive in Ukraine, but predicted that the weapons would last in the ‘weeks’ time frame’ – ‘nowhere even close to what they need to be able to continue to sustain this fight.’ 

U.S. officials have warned for months that Ukraine is running dangerously low on munitions. But efforts have stalled in the House over Republican opposition to efforts to tie Ukraine aid to border security. 

The replenishment funds have allowed the Pentagon to pull existing munitions, air defense systems and other weapons from its reserve inventories under presidential drawdown authority, or PDA, to send to Ukraine and then put contracts in order to replace those weapons, which are needed to maintain U.S. military readiness.

House Speaker Mike Johnson has refused to bring the $95 billion package, which includes aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, to the floor. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly implored Congress to help fight a vastly better-supplied Russia, but House Republican leadership has not been willing to bring the Ukraine aid to the floor for a vote, saying any aid must first address the U.S.’ border security needs.

The United States has committed more than $44.9 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration, including more than $44.2 billion since the beginning of Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24, 2022.

Polish leaders were in Washington Tuesday to press the U.S. to break its impasse over replenishing funds for Ukraine at a critical moment in the war. Polish President Andrzej Duda met with Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate and was to meet with President Joe Biden later in the day.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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