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US to send $1B military aid package to Ukraine

April 23, 2024

(CNN) — The Biden administration is preparing a new aid package for Ukraine that is expected to be worth around $1 billion, multiple sources familiar with the matter told CNN, and is set to be approved by President Joe Biden after the Senate passes a new foreign aid funding bill as soon as Tuesday afternoon.

In briefings to Congress in recent weeks, administration officials have indicated that the US will likely send Ukraine long-range ATACMS, or Army Tactical Missile Systems, for the first time as part of the new aid package, three of the sources said.

Last fall the US first sent Ukraine the midrange variant of the ATACMS missile system, which can reach about 100 miles, while the longer-range version can reach as far as 190 miles.

Ukrainian officials have been asking the US both in private and in public for the long-range missile to target deeper behind Russian lines.

American officials have resisted, citing both supplies and further provoking Moscow as excuses.

But US officials have been describing the situation on the Ukrainian battlefield in increasingly dire terms over the last several months, as US aid stalled amid gridlock in Congress over the administration’s $60 billion supplemental funding request.

CIA Director Bill Burns testified earlier this month that Ukraine could lose the war by the end of this year without US support, and the top US general for Europe, EUCOM commander Gen. Chris Cavoli, told Congress that the Russians have such an advantage in artillery ammunition that they will soon be out firing the Ukrainians 10-to-1.

Broadly, Russia has maintained a “significant quantitative advantage” over Ukraine in terms of munitions, manpower and equipment, a NATO official said earlier this month.

Sen. Mark Warner, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday that he hopes ATACMS missiles will be sent to Ukraine by the end of next week.

“It should have happened six months ago. The next best time is right now. This week, we’ve seen the Ukrainians overperform if you step back for a moment and think about the fact that for most of my life, most of America’s defense forces were focused on Russia,” Warner said.

“Getting this additional equipment as quickly as possible, I hope once this gets to the President by Tuesday or Wednesday, that these shipments will be literally launched with that longer range ATACMS.”

The package is also expected to include more desperately needed munitions for Ukraine, including air defence and artillery ammunition, Bradley fighting vehicles and demolition weaponry, the sources said.

The text of the legislation passed by the House and set to be approved by the Senate requires the administration to transfer the coveted longer-range ATACMS “as soon as practicable,” unless the president determines that doing so would be detrimental to US national security interests.

The military aid will be sourced from the US’ own stockpiles through a funding mechanism known as presidential drawdown authority, or PDA, and will be the first PDA package for Ukraine since March.

It will be significantly larger than that package, however, which was worth only around $300 million that the Pentagon was able to scrounge together from cost savings elsewhere in the department.

A White House official declined to comment on the contents of the PDA except to say that the US is “prepared to quickly send military aid to Ukraine to meet their urgent battlefield and air defense needs as soon as the supplemental passes the Senate and is signed into law.”

US European Command is now working to process the weaponry so that once the Senate passes the aid, it can flow into Ukraine as efficiently as possible, officials told CNN.

Once the funding is passed, the Pentagon can begin to transfer the aid “within a week or two,” Celeste Wallander, assistant secretary of defence for international security affairs, told lawmakers earlier this month.

(Photo: John Hamilton/US Army via CNN Newsource)

Administration officials have indicated that the US will likely send Ukraine long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems ( ATACMS) for the first time as part of the new aid package. In this photo, an ATACMS is being tested in 2021 in New Mexico.


By Natasha Bertrand and Alex Marquardt, CNN

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