How will Ukraine spend its new US aid?

With a long-anticipated supplemental bill passed in the House, Ukraine’s supporters can breathe slightly easier after months of increasing Russian pressure on the beleaguered country’s  outgunned and undermanned formations. 

Still, Kyiv now faces the important choice of how best to spend that money—a fraught question amid Russian gains, uncertain long-term U.S. support, and Ukraine’s eventual need to end the war. 

On Saturday, the House passed a supplemental spending bill to fund the purchase of new arms and defense gear for Ukraine as well as the replacement of U.S. weapons sent to Kyiv. 

The bill would add $13.7 billion to the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which procures new weapons. It would also give $1.6 billion to the Foreign Military Financing program, a separate weapons acquisition program run by the State Department. 

Another $13.4 billion would be set aside to replace U.S. weapons sent to Ukraine and to fund training for Ukrainian troops. This sum would cover the $12 billion that Congress has authorized in Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), which allows the President to send stockpiled U.S. weapons to Ukraine. The PDA authorization includes $8 billion authorized by the new supplemental and $3.9 billion previously authorized.

The first tranche of weapons to reach Ukraine under the new supplemental is expected to be valued at $1 billion and focus on munitions including 155mm shells, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, long range rockets, and armored vehicles useful for evacuating casualties. 

The aid package will likely be the last before the U.S. presidential election in November, according to Mark Cancian, senior advisor at think-tank CSIS. 

“The administration certainly won’t want to send another package right before the election,” he said. 

The previous U.S. aid package to Ukraine passed in December 2022. Representatives proposed another tranche in December 2023, but the measure was stopped by Republican congressional opposition. 

It is unclear whether Ukraine can expect another aid package, particularly if Donald Trump returns to the White House. He was impeached during his presidency for withholding aid to Kyiv and, as the presumptive GOP nominee for this year’s election, has railed against providing more, softening his stance only as momentum grew for the new supplemental.

Ukraine, meanwhile, finds itself with two competing priorities. 

“The conversation is how much of this aid will go towards immediate needs, and how much will go towards supporting Ukraine for 2025,” said Nick Reynolds, a research fellow for land warfare at think tank RUSI. 

In the short term, Ukraine must beat off Russian assaults that saw the fall of Ukraine’s eastern city of Adiivka in February and further gains in recent weeks in the same area. Russian advances were enabled in part by dwindling U.S. military aid that left Ukrainian units increasingly rationing shells. 

In the long term, Ukraine has said it seeks return of all its territory. With 18 percent of Ukrainian land under Russian control, though, that will mean launching a major offensive. Heavy Ukrainian losses in a failed summer counter-offensive into…

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