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US Senate Committee advances bill to increase military support to Ukraine

Ukrainian soldiers assigned to the Yavoriv Combat Training Center attend a Ukrainian Armed Forces Day ceremony Dec. 6. As part of the ceremony the United States presented the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense with 40 military ambulances. (Sgt. Alexander Rector/U.S. Army)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has unanimously advanced a bill to deliver military assistance to Ukraine, including lethal weapons, to help the Eastern European country counter Russian aggression.

The Ukraine Security Partnership Act would provide Ukraine with up to $300 million per year in military assistance until 2026, $150 million of which is subject to conditions. It needs to be passed by both the House and Senate and be signed by President Joe Biden to become law.

Kyiv is asking the West for more support amid a Russian military buildup near Ukraine’s border and in occupied Crimea.

The United States and NATO say the Russian troop movements there are the largest since 2014, when Moscow illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and backed separatists holding parts of the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in a conflict that has killed more than 13,000 people.

“As [Russian President Vladimir] Putin continues to escalate the situation along the border with Ukraine, we are speaking with one voice in reaffirming our steadfast support to the people of Ukraine and our commitment to protect our national security interests and our closest partners,” Senator Bob Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.

“Ukrainians have a right to choose their own future, and this bill contributes to that by supporting Western-style military reforms, lethal and nonlethal military equipment to defend itself from Russia, and U.S. diplomatic support for peace negotiations,” Senator Jim Risch, the ranking Republican member of the committee, said.

The bill also requires the president to report to Congress on whether 20 companies and ships helping to build the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline are eligible for sanctions.

The United States opposes the almost-complete pipeline, which would bring gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. Nord Stream 2 threatens to circumvent Ukraine and deprive the country of billions of dollars in gas transit fees.