UKRAINE – Allies in Ukraine’s fight for more weapons and supplies on Capitol Hill have received fresh ammunition following unrest in Russia. Although the long-term effects of the brief mercenary rebellion in Russia and Ukraine remain unknown, some lawmakers have argued that disagreements between Vladimir Putin and Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin demonstrate the effectiveness of weapons supplied by the West. and that the US government should overcome skepticism in Congress to continue providing them.
The debt-limiting pact that pegged defense spending at the $886 billion demanded by the administration was already under threat as bipartisan pressure mounted in Congress to spend more on the military, and specifically on more aid to Ukraine. The Senate Armed Services Committee presented its version of the defense policy bill and urged President Joe Biden to seek additional funding for Ukraine on Friday, hours before Prigozhin’s men swept into Russia.
On Monday, Rep. Gregory Meeks (DN.Y.), a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on MSNBC: “I hope what (Wagner’s rebellion) does strengthens members of Congress, especially some of my fellow Republicans, who were talking about not continuing to fund Ukraine, that’s why it’s important to make sure we fund Ukraine moving forward. increase in aid to Ukraine is small.While there is broad support for additional arming of Kyiv across the political spectrum in Congress, there is a strong minority of conservatives and some progressives who oppose to increased aid from the U.S. Many authorities also recognize that the success of Ukraine’s counteroffensive to repel Russian forces is a key factor in unlocking additional liquidity.
The US is still allowed to ship Ukrainian equipment worth billions of dollars of US inventory. However, the White House has yet to make a formal request for new powers before the current powers expire. That has yet to happen, and there is disagreement among congressional leaders on whether to approve more or not. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is taking a wait-and-see attitude to future demands. The shorter-term Presidential Drawdown Authority and the longer-term Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative are using US cash to sign contracts for arms and equipment to be delivered to Ukraine over the next few months and years.