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US Senate approves long-awaited military aid for Ukraine

April 24, 2024

The $61 billion aid package for Ukraine comes after months of deadlock at the US Congress. The bill also includes military support for Israel and Taiwan.

The US Capitol building during sunset in Washington, DC
The US Senate passed the military aid package with an overwhelming majorityImage: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Reynolds

The US Senate has passed $95 billion (€ 88.7 billion) in military aid to its allies, which includes the long-awaited $61 billion package for Ukraine, meant to help Kyiv defend itself against Russia. 

The bill passed with an overwhelming 79-18 vote late Tuesday.

What did Biden say?

US President Joe Biden said after the vote that he would sign the bill into law on Wednesday, adding that the delivery of weapons and equipment can begin "this week."

"Tonight, a bipartisan majority in the Senate joined the House to answer history's call at this critical inflection point," Biden said in a statement.

"I will sign this bill into law and address the American people as soon as it reaches my desk tomorrow so we can begin sending weapons and equipment to Ukraine this week," he said.

While the bill was expected to sail through the Democratic-majority Senate, it faced months of delays and contentious debate in the Republican-majority House of Representatives. Some conservative Republicans in the House had expressed skepticism to sending more aid to Ukraine, stalling the vote on the aid package there. 

Biden's Democratic administration is already preparing a $1 billion (€930 million) military aid package for Ukraine, the first from the bill, according to a report by Reuters news agency citing two unnamed US officials.

This includes vehicles, Stinger air defense munitions, additional ammunition for high-mobility artillery rocket systems, 155-millimeter artillery ammunition, TOW and Javelin anti-tank munitions and other weapons that can immediately be put to use on the battlefield, according to the report. 

Aid package a seismic shift in Ukraine war, expert tells DW

How did Ukraine respond?

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday thanked the US Senate.

"I thank Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for their strong leadership in advancing this bipartisan legislation, as well as all US Senators on both sides of the aisle who voted in favor of it," he posted on social media minutes after the bill passed. 

Yuriy Sak, an adviser to the Ukrainian Minister of Strategic Industry, said Ukrainians were eagerly awaiting the final approval of a US aid package.

"We were running out of ammunition. We were running out of air defense missiles," Sak told DW.

"Of course, this decision and this support bill will considerably improve our ability to fight back the aggressor and will send a signal of hope to our troops," he added.

"What is happening in Ukraine has already ramifications far beyond the borders of our country. And this is why it is so important that the US has made this decision." 

How did Israel respond?

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz thanked the Senate for approving the aid bill, which he said would send a "strong message" to the country's enemies.

"I thank the US Senate for passing the Israel aid package tonight with an overwhelming bipartisan majority," Katz posted on social media site X, formerly Twitter. "The Israel aid package that now passed both houses of Congress is a clear testament to the strength of our alliance and sends a strong message to all our enemies."

What else is included in the bill?

Of the $95 billion aid package, a massive $61 billion is earmarked for Ukraine's military which is facing a shortage of weapons and new recruits as Moscow exerts constant pressure from the east. 

The legislation would also send $26 billion (€ 24.3 billion) in wartime assistance to Israel and humanitarian relief to citizens of Gaza, and $8.12 billion (€ 7.58 billion) to "counter communist China" in Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific. 

A fourth bill, which includes a potential ban on Chinese-controlled social media platform TikTok, measures for the transfer of seized Russian assets to Ukraine and new sanctions on Iran, was also passed at the same time. The four bills were packaged as one for the Senate to approve.  

Aid flows back into US economy: DW's William Glucroft

mk/fb (AP, Reuters)