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Media: Biden arms Ukraine via Greece

by Abbey Fenbert January 31, 2024 6:59 AM 2 min read
Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (R) speaks during a joint press conference with President Volodymyr Zelensky after their meeting in Athens on Aug. 21, 2023. (Aris Messinis / AFP via Getty Images)
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U.S. President Joe Biden is able to skirt congressional opposition to Ukraine aid by donating weapons to Greece with the expectation that Greece will then donate its own surplus equipment to Kyiv, according to a Jan. 30 report published in Forbes.

A U.S. legal authority known as Excess Defense Articles (EDA) allows the president to deem certain weapons systems surplus and transfer them to partner nations at a cheap price or without cost.

The Greek news outlet Kathimerini reported on Jan. 27 that the U.S. agreed to send two C-130H aircraft, 60 Bradley armored fighting vehicles, and 10 engines for P-3 patrol planes as "free concessions" under the EDA authority.

The package also includes three Protector-class ships and a fleet of trucks, given to Greece as EDA in conjunction with the sale of $8.6 billion worth in F-35 jets.

A letter from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis outlining the terms of the weapons transfer also addresses the matter of arming Ukraine.

"We continue to be interested in the defense capabilities that Greece could transfer or sell to Ukraine," Blinken writes.

"If these capabilities are of interest to Ukraine, and pending an assessment of their status and value by the U.S. government, we can explore opportunities for possible additional Foreign Armed Forces Financing of up to $200 million for Greece."

The Greek arsenal holds key air defense equipment that Ukraine needs, including long-range S-300 and Hawk missile systems.

Kathimerini reported that Greek political and military leadership have already agreed to transfer surplus equipment to Ukraine.  

This circular arms trade allows Biden to bypass congressional obstacles to funding additional military aid to Ukraine. A $61 billion aid package has been stalled for months due to opposition from Republican legislators, and the White House has said there is no money left to send Ukrainian troops if Congress does not budge.

President Volodymyr Zelensky held a phone call with Mitsotakis on Jan. 29 ahead of the second Ukraine-Balkans summit.

Zelensky said he discussed Ukraine's defense needs with Mitsotakis, "especially in terms of air defense and artillery."

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