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Pentagon spox hints US air defenses continue to flow to Ukraine

by Martin Fornusek February 9, 2024 2:22 PM 2 min read
Pentagon Spokesperson Gen. Pat Ryder at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on Oct. 31, 2023. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
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Pentagon spokesperson General Pat Ryder hinted on Feb. 9 that air defense missiles and other capabilities are still flowing to Ukraine under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI).

Congress authorized $300 million for long-term defense contracts under USAI for Ukraine in December 2023. A much larger package of $60 billion remains stalled by disputes in Congress, greatly limiting Washington's capability to provide assistance to the besieged country.

When asked by a reporter whether the U.S. continues providing air defenses to Ukraine under USAI, Ryder said he cannot provide a number but said that "there are certain capabilities that were contracted under USAI, which does include some air defense capabilities."

When asked again whether there are "flowing U.S. air defense missiles to Ukraine, right now," Ryder responded: "To my knowledge, that and other capabilities that we've announced as it relates to USAI."

Air defense capabilities, such as U.S. Patriot systems, play a crucial role in protecting Ukraine against regular Russian attacks. Russia launched several massive missile and drone strikes in the past weeks and months, most recently on Feb. 7.

The U.S. has been Ukraine's chief provider of military aid since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, but domestic politics have increasingly made U.S. aid a partisan issue. Republican lawmakers have blocked aid for months now, effectively causing the flow of security assistance to run dry.

There have been at least a partial breakthrough recently, as the Senate voted on Feb. 8 to move the $95 billion foreign aid bill, including $60 billion for Ukraine, forward in a procedural vote.

Pentagon officials have repeatedly warned that aid provided under the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), which is separate from USAI, has run out and cannot be restored without Congress approving the funding.

Opinion: Protecting Ukraine aid from Western political dysfunction
With each passing day, it becomes increasingly evident that Western support for Ukraine has become ensnared in various domestic and geopolitical developments that have nothing to do with Ukraine’s struggle to defend itself. As Russia’s war of aggression approaches its second anniversary, it is cruci…
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