Biden signs Ukraine lend-lease military aid bill amid Russia invasion

US President Joe Biden signs an executive order to prohibit trade and investment between US individuals and the two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine recognized as independent by Russia, at the White House in Washington, US, February 21, 2022.

The White House | Reuters

WASHINGTON President Joe Biden signed a bill Monday that will streamline the lengthy process of supplying Ukraine with the military equipment needed for the fight against Russia.

“I’m signing a bill that provides another important tool that directly supports the government of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people and their fight to defend their country and their democracy against Putin’s brutal war,” Biden said from the Oval Office.

“The cost of the fight is not cheap, but caving to aggression is even more costly,” Biden added.

Biden’s signature on the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 will make it easier for the US to lend or lease military aid to allies affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Biden already has some power to lend or lease equipment, but the legislation he will sign into law will ease some of the requirements for doing so.

Under the measure, Ukraine can request streamlined transfers of US weapons and other security assistance. The US will get guarantees that the country will replace or reimburse the assets at a later date.

Monday’s legislation evokes the “Lend-Lease Act,” through which the US supported allies, including the Soviet Union, during World War II.

On Friday, the Biden administration announced a new weapons package for Ukraine worth $150 million.

The latest military aid package, the ninth security assistance installment, brings the US military aid commitment to $3.8 billion since Moscow invaded its neighbor in late February.

The $150 million pledged on Friday comes from the remaining $250 million in presidential drawdown authority, which allows the president to transfer excess weapons from US arsenals without congressional approval.

Last month, Biden requested $33 billion from Congress after he exhausted his remaining drawdown authority. He reiterated his request on Friday.

He said that for Ukraine to succeed against Russia, the US and its allies must continue to move weapons and ammunition into the country.

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