US announces $100 million military aid package for Ukraine

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U.S. President Joe Biden has approved a new military aid package for Ukraine worth up to $100 million, the U.S. Defense Department announced on Nov. 20.

The new package includes Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and additional ammunition, 155-mm and 105-mm artillery shells, Javelin and AT-4 anti-tank systems, and over 3 million rounds of small arms ammunition.

The package also includes cold weather gear, spare parts, and demolitions munitions for clearing obstacles.

This latest aid package utilizes assistance previously authorized for Ukraine under the Presidential Drawdown Authority that was left over from prior fiscal years, the Defense Department said.

Drawdowns entail the delivery of military equipment that was previously authorized and requires presidential authorization only, not a specific funding bill from the U.S. Congress.

The announcement came the same day as U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Kyiv, where he met with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Austin met Zelensky "to reaffirm the United States' steadfast support for Ukraine," the Defense Secretary captioned the photo of their meeting.

Later this week, Austin will host a virtual meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, also known as the Ramstein summit, to coordinate further military aid to Ukraine.

The defense secretary's visit comes after months of infighting in the U.S. Congress over government spending, including military aid for Ukraine.

Republicans in the Senate threatened to block the aid in early November unless there were security resolutions on the southern border of the U.S., leading to a standoff with Democrats.

U.S. President Joe Biden signed a temporary spending bill into law on Nov. 16, averting the impending government shutdown but leaving the issue of continued aid for Ukraine unaddressed.

The bill, passed by bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate, will fund the government through the end of the year in two staggered segments until Feb. 2 at the latest.

It earmarks money for the highest priority government expenditures but does not include funding for Ukraine, Israel, humanitarian aid for Palestinians, or increased border security.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said at a press conference on Nov. 14 that Congress would reconvene after Thanksgiving on Nov. 23 in order to try and pass a joint funding bill that contains aid for all four issues.

Read also: Historian Serhii Plokhy: ‘The better we prepare for the long war, the sooner it will end’

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