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Monday, July 15, 2024
WorldAmericasBiden maneuvers Ukraine aid deadlock with Congress as US strengthens defense ties with Kyiv

Biden maneuvers Ukraine aid deadlock with Congress as US strengthens defense ties with Kyiv

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In the ongoing situation regarding military aid to Ukraine, US President Joe Biden is engaged in a complex negotiation with a group of Republicans in Congress. These lawmakers have been stalling a crucial $61 billion military aid package to Ukraine, linking it to policy changes in immigration and asylum. This scenario presents a multifaceted mix of international aid, domestic political tactics, and defense policy.

The strategy of these Republicans involves connecting the aid to policy shifts, aiming to either influence the Biden administration’s immigration policies or to create a situation that could be beneficial in upcoming elections.

President Biden, however, has an alternative through the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) authority. This legal mechanism enables the US to offload surplus military equipment no longer needed by American forces.

Biden has been cautious in using the EDA authority, often opting for the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) to send newer weapons to Ukraine. The PDA requires immediate Pentagon funding to replace the sent weapons, a cost included in Biden’s supplemental funding request.

speaker-Mike Johnson
“We must insist that the border be the top priority, ” Speaker Mike Johnson told reporters after emerging from a meeting with Mr. Biden and other congressional leaders at the White House on Wednesday (Photo: Pete Marovich for The New York Times)

A critical aspect of this situation is Biden’s reliance on Republican support to continue the PDA-based aid to Ukraine. Without this support, he might shift to using the EDA authority, which could sidestep the need for Congressional approval. This strategic move could be key in resolving the current political deadlock.

The potential employment of EDA is noteworthy as it could allow the US to supply Ukraine with a range of military hardware, including tanks, vehicles, boats, and even retired F-16 fighters. This support could sustain Ukrainian forces for an extended period, regardless of Congressional agreement.

The dynamics changed following a private meeting between Biden and Congressional leaders about Ukraine. Post-meeting, House Speaker Mike Johnson, a central figure in the aid blockade, seemed to acknowledge the significance of funding for Ukraine.

This shift indicates Biden may have presented his EDA option, outlining the possible outcomes of the standoff: either a compromise with Republicans to secure border policies in return for Ukraine aid or the use of EDA authority by Biden, which could make Congressional opposition irrelevant as aid continues to Ukraine.

Globally, nations like Poland and France are increasing their support for Ukraine. Poland is boosting its production of munitions and military equipment, and France is set to strengthen Ukraine’s defense with a security agreement and additional military aid. The US has also committed an extra $800 million in military aid, affirming its dedication to Ukraine’s defense.

In a strategic move to bolster defense capabilities, the US and Ukraine have recently entered into an agreement to expand joint arms manufacturing and technical data exchange. This pact, signed by US Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Bill LaPlante and Ukrainian Minister of Defense Rustem Umerov, signifies a deepening of defense collaboration between the two nations. The agreement focuses on co-production and technical data exchange, aiming to enhance Ukraine’s defense infrastructure and operational readiness. This includes the joint manufacturing of defense equipment, sharing of designs, manufacturing techniques, and the exchange of crucial technical data on defense technologies.

This initiative is expected to significantly boost Ukraine’s military capabilities, particularly in areas such as air defense systems, repair and sustainment of military equipment, and the production of critical munitions. By addressing the immediate operational needs of Ukraine’s armed forces, the agreement underscores the US’s commitment to supporting Ukraine in the face of regional challenges and contributes to the enhancement of Ukraine’s self-sufficiency in defense production. The collaboration marks a notable escalation in the defense partnership, reflecting a strategic approach to international defense relations and geopolitical stability in Eastern Europe.

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Muzaffar Ahmad Noori Bajwa
Muzaffar Ahmad Noori Bajwa
Editor-in-chief, The Eastern Herald. Counter terrorism, diplomacy, Middle East affairs, Russian affairs and International policy expert.

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