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The USA has unlocked money and weapons for Ukraine. How it happened and what’s next

Photo credit: JIM LO SCALZO/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Photo caption: Near the Congress, people supported the allocation of aid to Ukraine

April 20, 2024

The US House of Representatives (one of the Houses of Congress, where Republicans have a majority), after more than six months of blocking military and financial aid to Ukraine, finally approved the much-needed legislative package worth more than $60 billion for Kyiv.

311 votes for 218 were voted “for”. “Against” – 112.

This decision is not yet final and requires the approval of another chamber of Congress – the Senate. However, Democrats have a majority there, and they are determined to quickly approve the package.

If all the procedures and President Joe Biden’s signature take place without delay, then already in May, Ukraine will be able to receive the first batches of aid, which are now so needed at the front.

The aid package to Ukraine was blocked in the USA at the beginning of October 2023.

For some time, the USA could provide Ukraine with small batches of military support. But already in the spring it became clear that without American money and weapons, Kyiv found itself in a critical situation, meanwhile a huge deficit arose at the front.

Photo credit: Congress.gov

photo caption Members of the House of Representatives welcomed the approval with Ukrainian flags

What was adopted by the House of Representatives for Ukraine

On April 20, the House of Representatives passed an aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan (and the entire Pacific region in general) from Republican Speaker Mike Johnson.

Johnson himself, who before his appointment had repeatedly spoken out in support of Ukraine, for many months effectively blocked the consideration of aid due to the difficult situation in the Republican Party and the position of Donald Trump.


Photo caption Volodymyr Zelenskyi visited the USA at the end of September 2023. At that time, it seemed that there was no threat to aid for Ukraine

A bill voted by the Senate was in the Chamber since February, which combined more than 60 billion for Ukraine with aid to Israel and Taiwan.

Johnson did not bring it to a vote, the document was criticized by both himself and his party colleagues from the so-called “pro-Trumpist wing.”

Trump himself said several times that Ukraine cannot be given money, but only given in the form of a loan.

image captionDonald Trump played a key role in blocking the aid

In the end, after long negotiations (even the head of the British Foreign Ministry, David Cameron, came to Trump for the negotiations), as well as after the massive missile-drone attack by Iran on Israel on April 14, the matter moved from a standstill.

On April 15, Mike Johnson, who is known for his support for Israel, proposed that the single bill be broken into four parts and voted on separately, albeit as a single aid package.

This allowed different groups among Republicans and Democrats to support issues close to them, and thus generally get a positive result.

The “Ukrainian” draft law provides for an allocation of $60.8 billion in aid to Ukraine and regional partners to counter Russia. The lion’s share of this money will be mastered by the American military-industrial complex.

Defense expenditures amount to $49.9 billion: $23.2 billion – replenishment of defense goods and services provided to Ukraine; $11.3 billion – current American operations in the region; $13.8 billion – purchase of modern defense systems, goods and services.

image copyrightEPA

image captionThe US Congress blocked aid for half a year

Another $9.5 billion is earmarked for economic aid to Ukraine, and $7.849 billion for economic aid to Ukraine, which may include direct budget support (except pension reimbursements).

It is the last more than 7 billion allocated in the form of a loan, although the US government can write it off.

The project also contains a request to the president to provide long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine.

In separate draft laws, 26 billion are mentioned for Israel, and 8 billion for Taiwan and the entire region.

The fourth project from the package – additional measures to counter enemies and strengthen national security. Here too it is said about the possible confiscation of Russian assets and sending money to help Ukraine.

Until the last moment, there were doubts whether the radical Trumpists among the Republicans would be able to disrupt the vote or even try to remove Mike Johnson.

However, they failed to do this, as well as to flood the project with amendments that could disrupt its approval.

What’s next

Now the entire package of four projects must be approved by the Senate. Initially, it was expected that it would meet after the break on April 29.

But Senate Speaker Democrat Chuck Schumer has already announced that the meeting to approve the aid will take place on April 23. Then President Joe Biden has to put his signature.

In any case, aid for Ukraine should be finally unblocked no later than the end of April.

The Pentagon has already announced that they will immediately send new batches of weapons to Ukraine as soon as Congress unblocks the aid package.

Caption: The United States is one of the main suppliers of weapons to Ukraine

How and why aid to Ukraine was blocked

The previous fiscal year in the US ended on September 30, and since then aid to Ukraine has been suspended.

The first big support package for the year was planned to be part of the temporary funding law for the US government, which was supposed to be approved on October 1, 2023. There, 24 billion dollars were foreseen for Ukraine.

A week before that, Volodymyr Zelensky came to the USA, but even then it became clear that unconditional support for Ukraine was coming to an end.

A series of important meetings with representatives of the Republicans showed that they are not ready to quickly approve aid to Ukraine.

Photo copyright: Reuters

image captionTrump ally Mike Johnson played a key role in the story of blocking Ukrainian aid. But in the end he unblocked the issue

On October 1, after disputes, the House of Representatives adopted a transitional budget, but it did not include money for Ukraine.

The authorities assured that it was temporary, but the situation only worsened.

On October 4, the chairman of the chamber, Kevin McCartney, was dismissed, including because of suspicions that he could push the Ukrainian issue.

The election of the speaker, as well as the issue of money for Ukraine, was suspended.

On October 20, Joe Biden sent a request for funding to Ukraine – he combined aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and the issue of the border with Mexico.

Already on October 25, the Republicans elected Mike Johnson as the speaker of the House of Representatives, and it seemed that the matter could move from place to place.

But the drag began, in which Donald Trump played a huge role. Johnson constantly had to balance between the wings of the Republicans, including the Trumpists, so that he would not be dismissed as a predecessor.

The Ukrainian issue became a hostage of the presidential campaign, which actually started then.

Photo caption: Failures of the Armed Forces in the spring of 2024, including those caused by a shortage of ammunition and weapons. Because of this, as they say in Ukraine, there was a retreat from Avdiivka and the loss of Chasovoy Yar was under threat

Democrats and Republicans are mired in long-running disputes over the border with Mexico and refugees. This issue became part of the package in which aid to Ukraine went.

It was supposed to be voted on already in December, before that even Volodymyr Zelenskyy had to speak before congressmen. But the vote scheduled for December 6 was canceled, and congressmen went on Christmas vacation.

In early February, the Senate agreed to a new support package and sent it to the House of Representatives for approval. She came out of vacation in February, but Ukraine was not taken up immediately – disputes and negotiations regarding the border continued.

At the time, it seemed that supporters of Ukraine might even try to bypass Speaker Johnson and pass the aid package under a special procedure, but it did not happen.

In March, the House of Representatives talked about drafting their documents, but then everyone went on Easter vacation.

At the beginning of April, it seemed that the situation had reached a dead end and there was no way out of it – the Republicans simply did not want to unblock the Ukrainian issue under various pretexts.

The situation has reached the edge – the head of the British Foreign Ministry, David Cameron, went to see Trump, where, among other things, they talked about unblocking Ukrainian aid.

It is difficult to say exactly what influenced the situation, but the intensification of diplomatic negotiations with Trump against the background of Iran’s attack on Israel on April 14 accelerated the processes.

Already on April 15, Mike Johnson, who had a personal meeting with Trump, announced a new approach to aid and dividing it into four packages. And on April 17, he already registered all the documents that voted this Saturday.

However, Ukraine lost a lot of time. The situation on the supply front has become critical, especially with anti-aircraft missiles and ammunition. The EU countries joined more actively in the matter of supplies to Ukraine, but it was not possible to close all the gaps in supplies.

During this time, the USA was able to “scrape up” several small aid packages in December 2023 and March 2024.

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