Military and Defense

Pentagon Spent Every Last Penny Of Latest Ukraine Package Before Congress Even Approved It

The Pentagon spent hundreds of millions in aid to Ukraine four months before Congress ever approved it, Politico reported on Monday.

President Joe Biden on Saturday signed off on Congress’ $1.2 trillion 2024 spending bill which included roughly $300 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), as Kyiv has not received funding from Congress in over a year. The $300 million had already been spent by the Department of Defense (DOD) in November because it was obligated under a continuing resolution at the time, according to Politico.

Therefore, the $300 million in aid included in the appropriations bill has no current physical value and “is not available to us right now,” a U.S. official speaking anonymously told Politico.

The Pentagon previously announced a $300 million aid package to Ukraine in November but warned it “exhaust[ed] the remaining USAI funds currently available to support Ukraine.” The USAI was set up when Russia invaded the Ukrainian region of Crimea in 2014 and serves to provide aid for longer-term purposes, according to Politico.

It is a separate process from the Pentagon pulling from its reserves and transferring weapons to Ukraine directly, which is known as the presidential drawdown authority often used in emergency wartime scenarios. The Pentagon tapped the Presidential Drawdown Authority in early March to deliver Ukraine an additional $300 million in emergency weapons.

The Pentagon has warned that both the USAI and aid available under the drawdown authority have now run out, according to Politico. The Biden administration is seeking a longer-term solution of providing Ukraine with $60 billion in additional aid, but Congress has thus far refused to sign off on the proposal.

“DOD has repeatedly urged Congress to pass a supplemental to support Ukraine in its time of need and to replenish our stocks,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Charlie Dietz told Politico. “For Ukraine, this supplemental is vital — there’s no other way to meet Ukraine’s needs at scale.”

Ukraine has taken in over $100 billion in military aid from the U.S. and the international community since the country’s war against Russia began in early 2022, but has failed to make any notable gains as its counteroffensive in Eastern Europe has largely stalled out amid a shortage of men and weaponry. Meanwhile, Russia’s war machine is at full capacity and continues to make territorial advancements, albeit at a slow and costly rate.

Some critics and lawmakers fear that Ukraine cannot achieve a military victory and should instead seek a peace deal with Russia.

“There is no capacity, regardless of whether $60 billion gets sent or not, for Ukraine to win,” retired Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, senior fellow and military expert at Defense Priorities and host of the Daniel Davis Deep Dive show, previously told the DCNF.

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Jake Smith

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