U.S. Exhausts Available Funding For Ukraine As U.S. Announces $250 Million Military Assistance Package


The U.S. State Department announced a $250 million Ukraine military aid package on Wednesday, the last such package the U.S. will provide to Ukraine until Congress approves the Biden administration’s funding requests.

A CNN report said:

“This package provides up to $250 million of arms and equipment under previously directed drawdowns for Ukraine,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. “Capabilities provided in today’s package include air defense munitions, other air defense system components, additional ammunition for high mobility artillery rocket systems, 155mm and 105mm artillery ammunition, anti-armor munitions, and over 15 million rounds of ammunition.”

Last week, the Biden administration said it had one more Ukraine security package to announce this year, but it would be the final one the U.S. could provide without lawmakers’ approval. U.S. Defense Department comptroller Mike McCord said in a letter to Congress that “once these funds are obligated, the Department will have exhausted the funding available to us for security assistance to Ukraine.”

This package marks the limit of the U.S.’ ability to provide weapons to Ukraine without additional funding from Congress. The Biden administration has asked Congress for a supplemental package including more than $60 billion in aid for Ukraine. But the legislation is currently stalled as negotiators try to find a compromise on border security and immigration policy, key Republican demands as part of any deal.

The administration has repeatedly warned that its ability to provide aid to Ukraine was rapidly dwindling, forcing the Pentagon to stretch what little money it had left into smaller aid packages.

“It is imperative that Congress act swiftly, as soon as possible, to advance our national security interests by helping Ukraine defend itself and secure its future,” Blinken said.

The CNN report said:

Earlier this month, the U.S. announced security packages worth $200 million and $175 million, relatively small compared to the much larger aid packages the administration has been able to send in the past. The U.S. has sent more than $46 billion in military aid to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began in February 2022.

This aid package announced Wednesday falls under Presidential Drawdown Authority, which is pulled directly from U.S. stocks and can be shipped quickly to Ukraine. The U.S. already exhausted the other key form of assistance, the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which allows the Defense Department to contract with arms manufacturers to purchase weapons for Kyiv.

Other media reports said:

Earlier this month, U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby warned that the U.S. “will have no more replenishment authority available” unless Congress authorizes new Ukraine aid without delay.

A statement similar to Blinken’s came from the Pentagon, urging Congress to take action “as soon as possible… to ensure that our support for Ukraine can continue.”

U.S. Lawmakers have already left Washington for the Christmas holidays, after having failed to approve $60 billion in Ukraine aid requested by President Joe Biden in October. Republicans in the House of Representatives blocked the omnibus bill, demanding tougher immigration control at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The reports said:

The Ukrainian military is bracing for 2024 as its much-anticipated summer counteroffensive failed to win any significant ground this year. Kiev’s forces took heavy casualties and lost much of their valuable Western-supplied tanks and other equipment while trying to break through thick Russian minefields and fortified positions.

Meanwhile, the Russian forces appear to have gone on the offensive, most recently ejecting Ukrainian troops from Maryinka, a key stronghold to the west of Donetsk. Ukraine has admitted loss of Maryinka.

West Quietly Shifting Ukraine Strategy, Says Politico

The U.S. and the EU have abandoned their objective of “total victory” of Ukraine over Russia in favor of a negotiated settlement that might cede some territory to Moscow, Politico, U.S. reported on Wednesday citing several anonymous insiders.

Publicly, both the White House and the Pentagon insist there has been no official change in policy. Two unnamed U.S. administration officials – including a White House spokesman – and an European diplomat have told Politico’s Michael Hirsh otherwise.

U.S. and European officials are now “discussing the redeployment” of Ukrainian troops away from the “mostly failed” counteroffensive and into a defensive posture, according to Hirsh’s sources.

Hirsh also highlighted that U.S. President Joe Biden used to promise to support Ukraine for “as long as it takes,” but is now saying “as long as we can” instead. With the additional aid funding stuck in Congress, the U.S. government is pushing for “rapidly resurrecting” Ukraine’s own military industry.

The anonymous White House spokesman told Politico that negotiations have always been the U.S. endgame in Ukraine, and that all the aid to Kiev has been intended to give it “the strongest hand possible when that comes.”

According to Politico, Biden wants a ceasefire in both Ukraine and the Middle East, as his endorsement of Israel’s offensive in Gaza is “costing him support” among the progressive Democrats, and he wants to “avoid bad headlines in an election year.”

Biden “cannot appear to be handing the advantage” to Russia after spending almost two years proclaiming its full backing of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s objective of total victory, Hirsh noted. 

The White House “cannot back down publicly because of the political risk” to Biden, said a congressional official described as familiar with the administration’s thinking, who acknowledged that discussions about peace talks “are starting.”

Last week, the New York Times reported that Moscow might be willing to accept a ceasefire freezing the current frontline. The Kremlin dismissed the story as “incorrect” while Kiev denounced the U.S. newspaper of record as working for Russia.

What the White House fears now is that Russia may not be willing to negotiate until after the November 2024 election, while its forces might go on the offensive in the spring, according to Hirsh.

Ukraine Needs Plan B, Says ex-PM

Another media report said:

Ukrainian President Zelensky needs to offer the country another plan for winning the war, because the current one is not working, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said on Wednesday. 

Tymoshenko became Ukraine’s first female prime minister in 2005, after the ‘Orange Revolution’, and led the government again in 2007-2010. She currently heads the opposition Fatherland (Batkivshchyna) party, which has 24 seats in the Verkhovna Rada.

“Yes, today we are all for victory, for Ukraine, for territorial integrity,” she said in a video address posted on social media. “But head-on, as this battle is going on today, it will be very difficult for Ukraine to fight long-term protracted wars. Therefore I ask the president: offer the country a plan B for our victory.” 

Tymoshenko did not say what her vision of an alternative policy would be. She described the current situation as “difficult [and] rather tragic,” due to the reduction in military aid from the West, which are “just enough to not lose.”

The former PM also addressed Zelensky’s proposal to draft up to 500,000 more troops, which would expand mobilization to the very young, the elderly, as well as individuals with disabilities.

“It does not solve the problem, it is ineffective and it is unconstitutional,” Tymoshenko said, noting that her party would vote against it. Instead of expanding the draft to 25-year-olds, she said, Kiev ought to send police to the front instead. 

“Keeping back hundreds of thousands of people in the security forces who know how to fight, but don’t fight, is the wrong position,” she argued.

According to Zelensky’s “peace platform” articulated last November, Ukraine’s goal is to reclaim its 1991 borders and force Russia’s unconditional surrender, while joining the EU and NATO. Some of his advisers have also speculated that Russia would need to be dismembered. 

Moscow has dismissed Zelensky’s “platform” as nonsensical, noting that for talks with Ukraine to even begin, Kiev would need to recognize Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye, Kherson – and of course, Crimea – as Russian territory.

In March 2014, when Crimea voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia in response to the U.S.-backed Maidan coup, Tymoshenko was caught on tape calling for Ukrainians to “grab our guns and go kill those damn Russians.” She ran for president in 2019 against the incumbent Pyotr Poroshenko, but came in third after Zelensky – an actor with no political experience – joined the race and promised peace.

Ukraine Minister Does Not Understand Why The Military Needs Donations

It is unclear why Kiev’s troops may lack some necessary equipment and have to rely on paying out of pocket or on donations, Ukrainian Finance Minister Sergey Marchenko told Forbes on Wednesday.

The minister was asked during an interview with the outlet to explain why Ukrainian troops had to rely on millions of hryvnias collected by civilian volunteers and sometimes pay for supplies themselves.

Marchenko replied that he himself “does not understand” why Ukrainians were still raising funds for the military, noting that the government currently spends some five billion hryvnias ($132 million) from the state budget every single day to fund the Armed Forces of Ukraine. No volunteers or non-governmental organizations could possibly provide anything close to that amount, he added.

Between that and funding by local authorities in various regions, there should be more than enough to provide Ukrainian troops with all they need, the minister said, noting that military warehouses should also have sufficient quantities of weapons, ammunition, and equipment.

“It is hard for me to comment on these things that I myself do not completely understand,” Marchenko said, noting that such questions need to be asked of those who are tasked with delivering the equipment to the soldiers.

Asked to comment on Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenesky’s recent announcement that Kiev would mobilize an additional 500,000 people, Marchenko said the Finance Ministry has not yet received any detailed information about such plans.

However, he noted that it was unclear where the money to finance the mobilization drive would come from. Drafting another half a million people would cost Kiev approximately 500 billion hryvnias ($13.2 billion), he said.

“Ask someone who can give the answer. If you want to hear it from me, I, unfortunately, cannot say that I am ready to work in the ‘provide at any cost’ format,” Marchenko said. He did note that mobilizing that many people would lead to a reduction of the country’s GDP and a loss of tax revenues.

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov, however, has suggested that Zelensky’s mobilization wave may be an attempt to create a pretext for asking Kiev’s backers in the West for more money and weapons.

Ukraine Now A European Somalia, Says Exiled Opposition Leader

Ukraine has become “a European Somalia,” Ukraine’s exiled opposition leader Viktor Medvedchuk has said in response to the country being placed on a list of the world’s most dangerous places.

In an opinion piece for the Drugaya Ukraina outlet published on Monday, Medvedchuk noted that Ukraine has found itself alongside Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia on the ‘Risk Map’ released by the International SOS health and security service firm last week. The company evaluates countries annually based on four risk criteria: Security, medical, climate change, and mental health.

The opposition leader stressed that in terms of safety and mental health, “the regime of Zelensky beats even the most underdeveloped countries. After all, such Russophobic cannibalism introduced into the state policies of modern Ukraine can’t be found even among the most backward and aggressive tribes of Africa.

He mentioned reports of forced conscription, the destruction of Russia-linked monuments, aggressive anti-Russian rhetoric by the Ukrainian media, and videos showing suspected looters being tied to lampposts as punishment among the signs of what he called “mass madness” in Ukraine.

According to Medvedchuk, it began long before the launch of Russia’s military operation in the country in February 2022. “Ukraine had been driven crazy; people were forced to forget their roots, faith, history, language, and traditions. All this was done at the behest of the West, and billions had been spent on it, which the Western politicians openly acknowledged,” he wrote.

And when the conflict between Moscow and Kiev escalated, “the Western politicians did not rush to extinguish it but began to ignite it, supplying weapons and money in huge quantities [to Ukraine],” the 69-year-old politician wrote. Due to this backing by the U.S. and its allies, “Zelensky’s deranged regime imagined itself the center of the universe and completely lost touch with reality,” he added.

“The Ukrainian people found themselves in a madhouse where the most dangerous patients have seized power,” Medvedchuk wrote. Staying in Ukraine is “dangerous for mentally healthy people,” and that’s why all of them are trying to flee the country, he insisted.

Medvedchuk used to be the head of the Opposition Platform – For Life party, formerly the largest opposition faction in the Ukrainian parliament. But after the outbreak of the conflict with Russia, he was branded a traitor and arrested. The opposition figure spent months in detention before being handed over to Moscow in a prisoner swap in September last year.


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