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Reuters: US readies new Ukraine arms package despite tumult in Congress

Amid Congressional discord over US-Ukraine defense aid, the Biden administration is preparing a weapons package for Ukraine, leveraging a months-old accounting error, per Reuters sources.
Ordnance for M777 gun. Source: US Embassy in Ukraine
155mm ordnance for M777 gun. Photo: US Embassy in Ukraine
Reuters: US readies new Ukraine arms package despite tumult in Congress

The US President Biden’s administration is expected to announce a new weapons package for Ukraine next week as the Pentagon continues to use up funds discovered due to a multi-billion dollar accounting error, US officials said, according to Reuters.

Media reports in May suggested that the Pentagon overvalued US equipment it sent to Ukraine by around $3 billion, which opened up a possibility of more weapons being sent to Kyiv for its defense against Russian forces. Later, the accounting error was revised up to $6.2 billion.

Reuters says now the Biden administration has utilized these funds to provide Kyiv with weaponry, supplies, and ammunition, even though the recent stopgap spending bill, aiming to avoid a US government shutdown, passed by the House of Representatives last weekend did not include provisions for new aid to Ukraine. Biden asks Congress to approve another $24 billion related to Ukraine.

According to Reuters sources, the Pentagon currently holds about $5.4 billion in presidential drawdown authority (PDA), coming after a June disclosure of the accounting error.

“The composition of the next round of weapons aid is still being formulated and is set to be unveiled on Wednesday [11 October] at the 16th [Rammstein Format] meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in Brussels where security assistance will be a key topic, the officials said,” Reuters wrote.

President Biden has committed to replenishing the stocks of arms sent to Ukraine, with the actual cost being incurred when replacements are purchased.

If Congress does not allocate new funds for replacements and the Pentagon exhausts its reprogramming options, the US, Ukraine, and arms manufacturers may need to explore alternative solutions to fill the stock gaps.

Increasing the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) would authorize the US president to transfer articles and services from US stocks during an emergency, without the need for new funds. However, replacing the weapons would still require new funding.

The Biden administration is considering using a State Department grant program to provide additional military aid to Ukraine, a US official told Reuters.

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