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US releases final package of authorised military aid for Ukraine

By AFP - Dec 28,2023 - Last updated at Dec 28,2023

WASHINGTON — The US government on Wednesday announced what it said was the last remaining package of weapons available for Ukraine under existing authorisation, with Congress now needing to decide whether to keep supporting Kyiv's battle against Russian invasion.

"The year's final package" includes air-defense and artillery munitions, the State Department said in a statement. It added that Congress, where Republicans are split on supporting Ukraine, should "act swiftly" to renew the flow.

President Joe Biden has made backing Ukraine a priority and US weapons and financial assistance have been crucial in helping the pro-Western country battle against a far larger attacking Russian force.

However, right-wing Republicans have led a push to halt the effort, refusing to authorize new budget outlays if the Democrats don't first agree to sweeping, tough new measures against illegal migration over the US southern border.

The final tranche of aid is worth up to $250 million and includes "air-defence munitions, other air-defense system components, additional ammunition for high mobility artillery rocket systems, 155mm and 105mm artillery ammunition, anti-armor munitions, and over 15 million rounds of ammunition", the State Department said.

The statement underlined the US-led coalition helping Ukraine, noting that "more than 50 countries" are involved.

"It is imperative that Congress act swiftly, as soon as possible, to advance our national security interests by helping Ukraine defend itself and secure its future," it said.

In Kyiv, Ukrainian presidential aide Andriy Yermak welcomed the aid.

"Thank you for your help. We will win," Yermak wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

A week ago, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby made clear that the upcoming drawdown of US military aid would be the last available, leaving "no more replenishment authority".

"We're going to need Congress to act without delay," he said.

Democrats in the Senate, where they hold a narrow majority, tried to push Republicans in December for a last-minute deal, but with little progress the two parties left for the end-of-year holidays.

Congress reconvenes on January 8.

However, finding agreement on immigration, one of the most complex and longest-running headaches in US politics, is expected to be difficult in the Senate.

Even then, a deal would have to be approved in the House of Representatives where Republicans, dominated by a hard-right faction, hold their own narrow majority.


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