The US Senate backed a defense policy bill authorizing a record $886 billion in annual military spending for 2024, which includes a total of $300 million in aid for Ukraine, Reuters reported.
At nearly 3,100 pages, the bill approved a record $886 billion for defense, a 3% increase over 2023. The approved bill got “strong support” from both Democrats and Republicans, Reuters reported.
The bill does include some support for Ukraine, extending one assistance initiative, the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, through 2026 and authorizing $300 million annually.
But this is “a tiny” compared to the $61 billion in additional Ukraine aid President Joe Biden has requested from Congress, Reuters reported. Consideration of that funding is currently stalled in Congress over disagreements tied to immigration legislation demands from Republicans. On 12 December, Ukrainian President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy made an appeal for continued US support during high-stakes meetings with lawmakers in Washington but ran into unwavering resistance from Republicans due to the same reason.
According to the newly approved bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorizes various defense priorities, including “pay raises for the troops – this year’s will be 5.2% – to purchases of ships, ammunition and aircraft as well as policies such as measures to help Ukraine and pushback against China in the Indo-Pacific,” Reuters reports.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated the NDAA “will ensure America can hold the line against Russia, stand firm against the Chinese Communist Party, and ensures that America’s military remains state-of-the-art at all times all around the world.”
On 11 December Zelenskyy met with executives of US defense companies, where discussed the concept of creating a European defense hub, emphasizing Ukraine as the ideal location due to its extensive combat experience. He pledged Ukraine’s commitment to expeditiously make essential decisions, streamline processes, and initiate procurement.
“We are ready to act quickly, and we have already started to do so, since we have no other way to change the system as we are at war,” the President said.
Zelensky said that Ukraine’s readiness to boost military production with support from powerful companies, particularly for joint artillery, air defense, and missile systems. He also mentioned plans to invite American partners to invest in Ukrainian defense firms, benefitting all parties.