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US defense bill includes $300 million aid for Ukraine

by Natalia Datskevych December 8, 2021 9:39 PM 2 min read
The U.S. 2022 annual defense spending bill includes $300 million in aid for Ukraine. (Defense Ministry of Ukraine)
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The U.S. House of Representatives approved the 2022 annual defense spending bill, which includes $300 million in aid for Ukraine, on Dec. 7.

The total budget amount is $770 billion. The Senate is due to vote on the bill later this week.

The move comes a day after U.S. President Joe Biden spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin via a video conference about the increasing threat of the Kremlin's large-scale invasion of Ukraine.

As part of the bill, the Ukrainian armed forces would receive $300 million in 2022 under the Security Assistance Initiative. This includes $75 million for lethal weapons. The package is $50 million greater than Biden had requested earlier.

At the same time, lawmakers wiped two Russia-related clauses from the bill — sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project and a ban on the purchase of Russian sovereign debt.

The Nord Stream 2 is an undersea pipeline, which runs from Russia to Germany bypassing Ukraine. If launched, Ukraine may lose up to $2 billion in annual transit fees, as well as a deterrent against further Russian aggression.

Sanctions on Russia, particularly Nord Stream 2, have for months been a point of division in the U.S.

In May, the Biden administration waived sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG, a Swiss consortium owned by Russia's Gazprom state company that built the undersea pipeline to Germany. Biden sought to repair relations with Germany, which has been a proponent of the pipeline.

This led to backlash. Republican Idaho Senator Jim Risch, a ranking member of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, said there is “no better way to deter Russian aggression against Ukraine than by stopping Putin’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline,” according to an NBC News report on Dec. 3.

The U.S. has provided over $2.5 billion in defense aid to Ukraine since the Russian invasion in 2014. This includes surveillance and communication systems, drones, patrol boats, and weapons such as Javelin anti-tank missiles.

Read more: What we know about Biden-Putin call on threatening invasion of Ukraine

In November, the Kremlin deployed nearly 100,000 troops near Ukraine and in occupied territories in what many consider a possible preparation for large-scale military action.

According to Ukrainian and Western intelligence, Russia might employ between 94,000 and 175,000 troops to potentially launch a large-scale invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.

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