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US Senate sends $40 billion Ukraine aid package to Joe Biden’s desk

The US Senate approved new $40 billion in military, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine on Thursday, as Russia continues its offensive in the Donbas region.

The vote passed 86-11 after a week-long delay, despite objections from some self-proclaimed American Republicans. US President Joe Biden is expected to quickly sign the measure, unleashing vital support as the battle enters its fourth month.

The $40 billion package is more than the $33 billion Biden requested three weeks ago, and includes increased spending on defense and humanitarian aid.

Mr. Biden welcomed the passage of the bill and said the actions of Congress ensure there will not be a financial lapse for Ukraine. The President will sign the bill after it is formally transferred by the Senate.

The administration on Thursday also announced an additional $100 million in security assistance from previously authorized funds, including artillery, radar and other equipment.

More than half of the money in the new package will go towards arms, equipment and military financing for Ukraine, as well as restoring the US arsenal and supporting European Command operations.

The vote was delayed after Republican senator Rand Paul introduced several procedural hurdles to signal his opposition. He had wanted to include an inspector general for funds, and said he was concerned that the package would require additional deficit spending. Paul, a financially conservative lawmaker known for his non-interventionist stance, said last week that “we cannot save Ukraine by destroying the US economy”.

The US has provided billions of dollars in lethal assistance to Ukraine, including artillery and anti-tank systems that have played a key role in helping counter Russian efforts to capture Kyiv and other parts of the land country.

The new support comes as US officials describe a slow and slow offensive in eastern Ukraine turning into a war of attrition. Biden administration officials are skeptical of the prospects for any imminent diplomatic resolution. Thursday’s package is expected to last at least through September.

The bill was easily passed by the Senate with broad bipartisan support, and lawmakers in both parties said the significant package demonstrates US resolve as the fight continues.

“The authorization of this additional $40 billion to provide more artillery, anti-tank weapons and other hardware as well as economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine is another blow to Ukraine.” the accused [Vladimir] Bob Menendez, chairman of the Democratic Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Putin has struggled to deal with the most impactful, coordinated and wide-ranging economic sanctions in history. .

Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate armaments committee, said the bill would allow Ukraine to quickly receive much-needed military aid and more advanced weapons systems as Russia prepares to do so. for a protracted conflict.

He urged the Biden administration to do more “both helping Ukraine and replenishing our own stockpile, and we especially need to move faster in the production of bombs and ammunition.”

Senator Mike Lee, a member of the Republican group America First that voted against the aid, said he could not support the legislation without other measures to offset its costs.

“I support helping Ukraine repel Russian aggression, but because inflation, gas prices, and shortages keep Americans at home, I can’t support $40 billion in new spending unless when it is offset by cuts or withdrawals from authorized funds, especially when the European Union is not aligned with what we are doing to end this conflict in their own backyard,” he said. speak.

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