|United States: aid to Ukraine which is being attacked by Russia|
The United States is increasingly procrastinating in providing assistance to Ukraine, which is being attacked by Russia. Finally, the congress of Uncle Sam's country approved a military and humanitarian aid package worth nearly 40 billion US dollars for Ukraine. This is an "unprecedented" number that US legislators say will help the country defend against the continuing Russian invasion. The bill, previously passed by the House of Representatives, passed in the Senate on Thursday by an overwhelming 86 to 11 vote, sending the bill to President Joe Biden for signature.
The massive aid package signals a major escalation of US support for Ukraine after nearly three months of war, analysts told Al Jazeera. “The scale is unprecedented and speaks – from a US perspective – to the earthquakes that the current state of Europe presents,” said Elias Yousif, a research analyst at the Stimson Center, a think-tank in Washington, DC. The law provides for $6 billion in weapons, training and financial support for Ukraine's military and $4 billion for military financing over the next five months to the end of September, according to a summary of the law. This also includes 9 billion to replenish US stockpiles of weapons shipped to Ukraine and nearly $4 billion for expanded US military operations in Europe.
The bill provides $8.76 billion in economic support for the Ukrainian government and more than $5 billion to address widespread global food shortages and rising prices caused by the conflict. Specifically, $119 million was set aside to fund US agencies to track and confiscate financial assets, cruise ships and other property approved by the Russian oligarchs. "When you look at the nature and content of US security assistance, it escalates," Yousif told Al Jazeera. “It went from single gun, shoulder-to-shoulder guns to heavy artillery, rotary wing aircraft, more amored personnel carriers and some very advanced unmanned aerial vehicles.” Combined with earlier announcements of US aid to Ukraine, this new funding brings total US aid to more than $50 billion since the war began in late February.
That far exceeds the more than $3.8 billion in annual security assistance the US provides to Israel, the largest recipient of American military aid.
"There really isn't anything comparable in recent history," said William Hartung, senior research fellow at the Quincy Institute, who warned of the potential risks. “The question becomes, how will Moscow react?” Hartung told Al Jazeera. "It's a dangerous place to be with how fast weapons move, their volume and the limited questions being asked about what policies to use." Thursday's Senate vote comes as Biden hosts Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto at the White House.
The US supports the offer of the two European countries to join the NATO alliance. Biden praised the Senate's approval of the bill and announced the transfer of other US weapons to Ukraine, including radar and artillery. "These weapons and equipment will go straight to the forefront of freedom in Ukraine, and reaffirm our strong support for the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their country against Russia's ongoing aggression," Biden said in a White House statement.
Support for Ukraine and NATO expansion goes a long way in the US Congress, where the conflict with Russia is seen as a must-win test of the trans-Atlantic partnership the US has built with Europe since the collapse of the Soviet Union. "When I think of [Russian President] Vladimir Putin's unprovoked attack on Ukraine, I can't help but think that the Baltics would fall into the hands of Putin and his aggression long ago if he succeeded," Senator Richard Durbin said in the Senate. speech on Wednesday. “What holds it back is not only the courage of the people who live there but the fact that they have many friends who are willing to stand behind them, members of the EU and members of the NATO alliance,” said Durbin, whose mother was born in Lithuania. Several US legislators have raised concerns about the high cost of the legislation. Senator Rand Paul, a Republican, has delayed passage of the bill for a week over objections to the cost. "We cannot save Ukraine by destroying the US economy," he said.
The new aid package "is an implicit statement that this will last a long time and the United States will continue to support Ukraine", said Mark Cancian, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think-tank in the US capital. The US has sent about 18,000 troops to strengthen the Eastern European countries in NATO since the war began. They were supported by additional German, British and Canadian troops. Buried in the text of a Ukrainian aid package passed by Congress is $600 million to help US defense contractors build missiles faster and get long-term supplies of the rare earth metals used to make advanced weapons, Cancian noted.
Biden had asked for $33 billion in Ukrainian spending over the next five months, but Congress raised the amount to $40 billion. Overall, the bill "is intended to communicate the level of US investment in the conflict and the perception in some Western capitals that Ukraine's prospects for conflict have increased", Yousif said.