The U.S. will be sending another aid package to Ukraine “soon,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday, in an effort to assuage concerns about diminishing support for the embattled country.
“There is [a] strong, very strong international coalition behind Ukraine. And if [Russian President Vladimir] Putin thinks he can outlast us, he’s wrong. He’s wrong. And so we will have another package of aid for Ukraine soon to signal our continued support for the brave people of Ukraine,” Jean-Pierre said during a White House press briefing. The latest aid package will come later this week, according to a U.S. official.
The announcement comes two days after Congress passed an 11th hour government funding bill that did not include aid for Ukraine, an omission that was a blow for both Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and President Joe Biden, who has made support for Ukraine one of his priorities as he seeks reelection in 2024.
Zelenskyy met with congressional leadership in September to plead for more aid. According to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Zelenskyy told him at the time, “If we don’t get the aid, we will lose the war.”
On Sunday, Biden called on Congress to act swiftly to approve funding for additional aid, amid fears that U.S. funding for the country will soon dry up.
“We cannot under any circumstances allow America’s support for Ukraine to be interrupted,” Biden said Sunday while addressing the passage of the 45-day stopgap funding package.
“The vast majority of both parties — Democrats and Republicans, Senate and House — support helping Ukraine and the brutal aggression that is being thrust upon them by Russia,” Biden said. “Stop playing games, get this done.’’
The announcement of an upcoming package of military equipment for Ukraine comes as the Pentagon worries that it will not be able to send weapons for much longer if Congress does not provide additional funding.
The Defense Department still has $5.4 billion worth of weapons available to send to Ukraine, but is fast running out of money to replenish its own stockpiles, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the discussions, who were granted anonymity to speak on a sensitive topic. Congress reached the 11th-hour deal to keep the government open by excluding additional funding for the conflict.
The $5.4 billion is the remaining money in the presidential drawdown account after an “accounting error” forced DOD to recalculate the value of equipment that was being sent to Ukraine. The Pentagon initially overvalued the aid that had already been sent by $6.2 billion because officials counted the value of replacing the weapons instead of the weapons’ value when it was purchased.
DOD also has $1.6 billion left from the $25.9 billion Congress provided for Ukraine, but senior leaders have chosen to use that money to replenish the Pentagon’s own stockpiles, the two U.S. officials said.
“Your credit card may have a $5,000 balance you can use, but your account may have $500 left,” said one of the officials. “If Ukraine says, ‘We really need this right now,’ the department may be able to give that, but we wouldn’t do it unless we’re able to replenish what we gave them.”
There is no money left in the other pot of funds for Ukraine aid, the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which allows the administration to finance the purchase of weapons and equipment for Kyiv instead of pulling them from U.S. stockpiles, the first official said.