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US president signs bill to provide new aid for Ukraine

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks after signing legislation authorizing aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan at the White House on April 24, 2024
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks after signing legislation authorizing aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan at the White House on April 24, 2024 - Copyright GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP CHIP SOMODEVILLA
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks after signing legislation authorizing aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan at the White House on April 24, 2024 - Copyright GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP CHIP SOMODEVILLA
W.G. DUNLOP

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed legislation authorizing $61 billion in military aid for Ukraine, with the Pentagon quickly announcing a new $1 billion package headed for Kyiv, featuring desperately needed air defense and artillery munitions.

The legislation — which also includes aid for Israel and Taiwan and a potential ban on TikTok — comes after months of delay that saw Ukrainian forces run short of ammunition and suffer battlefield setbacks.

“I just signed into law the national security package that was passed by the House of Representatives this weekend, and by the Senate yesterday,” Biden told reporters, saying he is “making sure the shipments start right away, in the next few hours.”

“It’s going to make America safer, it’s going to make the world safter and it continues American leadership in the world and everyone knows it,” he said of the legislation.

“It gives vital support to America’s partners so they can defend themselves against threats to their sovereignty and to the lives and freedoms of their citizens.” 

The Pentagon quickly announced a $1 billion package for Kyiv using the new funding, including air defense munitions, artillery rounds, ammunition for HIMARS precision rocket launchers, anti-tank weapons and armored vehicles.

– Lengthy debate –

The aid legislation — valued at a total of $95 billion — only passed the House of Representatives after months of acrimonious debate among lawmakers over how or even whether to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s invasion, which it launched in February 2022.

A similar aid package passed the Senate in February, but had been stalled in the House while Republican Speaker Mike Johnson — heeding calls from ex-president Donald Trump and his hardline allies — demanded concessions from Biden on immigration policies, before a sudden reversal.

The United States has been a key military backer of Ukraine, but Congress had not approved large-scale funding for Kyiv for nearly a year and a half.

Ukraine’s military is facing a severe shortage of arms and recruits as Moscow exerts constant pressure from the east, with frontline circumstances are expected to worsen in the coming weeks.

While some hardline Republicans have been wary of sending funds overseas, Biden and the Democrats frame Ukraine aid as an investment in US security against future Russian aggression targeting other countries.

The bill signed by Biden also provides for much-needed humanitarian assistance to Sudan, Haiti and Gaza, with the president calling on Israel to allow aid to quickly reach Palestinians in the war-racked coastal enclave.

“We’re going to immediately secure that aid and surge it…  including food, medical supplies, clean water,” Biden said. “Israel must make sure all this aid reaches the Palestinians in Gaza without delay.”

Another provision in the legislation would ban popular social media app TikTok if it does not cut ties with its Chinese parent company.

TikTok plans to fight the measure in court, with its CEO Shou Zi Chew saying in a video message on the platform that “this is a ban. A ban on TikTok and a ban on you and your voice.”

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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