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US Senate blocks Ukrainian aid package despite pleas from White House

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. (The Presidential Office of Ukraine)

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

The U.S. Senate on December 6 blocked a White House request for $106 billion in emergency aid primarily for Ukraine and Israel as Republicans objected to the bill’s lack of immigration reforms.

A vote on whether to allow the bill to advance marked a significant defeat for President Joe Biden, who had urged Congress in a speech earlier to quickly approve more military aid to Ukraine, warning that his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, will be emboldened to grab more territory if he is victorious on the battlefield.

Zelenskiy dispatched Defense Minister Rustem Umerov to Washington to plead Ukraine’s case for more military aid before House leaders.

Umerov said he told U.S. lawmakers on December 6 that Ukraine needed additional air defense, drones, electronic-warfare equipment, artillery, and ammunition, warning that Russia was increasing its output of weapons.

Meanwhile, U.S. and Ukrainian officials signed an agreement to speed up weapons co-production and data sharing. No information was given on what types of weapons the agreement covered. Greater domestic production of weapons would ease Ukraine’s dependence on Western partners.

The United States has delivered more than $44 billion in military aid to Ukraine since February 2022, including more than $25 billion in U.S. presidential drawdown authority.

The bimonthly drawdown had averaged more than $600 million during the first 19 months of the war but has significantly fallen over the past two months as authorized spending approaches depletion.

The United States on December 6 announced the latest bimonthly drawdown for Ukraine totaling $175 million.