President Joe Biden announced a new $200 million military aid package for Ukraine during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to the White House on Tuesday.
“I just signed a decision to allocate another $200 million worth of defense aid by drawing down resources from the Department of Defense to Ukraine. It’s going to go quickly,” Biden told Zelenskyy before their bilateral talks.
Biden did not specify what equipment would be included in the new assistance package. However, the relatively small package is expected to include essentials like 105mm and 155mm artillery rounds and HIMARS munitions.
This year, the White House is having to dole out small tranches of assistance as it stretches the remaining funding, in contrast to 2022 when the US pledged a $1 billion drawdown with a Patriot battery to Ukraine on the day Zelenskyy visited the White House.
Biden stressed the need for Congress to approve further funding for Kyiv, warning that failure to do so would be a “Christmas present” for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We’re going to stand with you, even if the Republicans in Congress block additional assistance,” Biden assured Zelenskyy.
Biden’s request for additional funding to help Ukraine hangs in the balance due to the opposition of some Republicans who demand to secure the USA-Mexico border before they will approve the $110.5 billion allocation to support Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, with $61 billion specifically designated for Ukraine.
Ahead of the meeting with Biden, Zelenskyy held closed-door conversations with senators but failed to sway their reluctance.
What is a presidential drawdown?
The Presidential Drawdown Authority is a special provision under US law that allows the President of the United States to authorize the transfer of excess defense articles and services from US stocks to foreign countries in case of an emergency without the need for Congressional approval.
Since August 2021, the Biden administration has used presidential drawdown authority a total of 52 times to authorize military assistance to Ukraine. The last one, valued at up to $175 million, was announced on 6 December and included air defense and HIMARS missiles, artillery rounds, vehicles, etc.