Nine U.S. lawmakers introduced a bill on Dec. 15 allocating $450 million to increase material support for the Ukrainian Armed Forces, including funding for weaponry, training, and military reform in 2022.
The Guaranteeing Ukraine’s Autonomy by Reinforcing its Defense Act (GUARD Act) includes $100 million for anti-air defense and anti-ship missiles to deter a Russian invasion that may be coming this winter.
The bill would authorize provision of lethal assistance like mortars, grenade launchers, anti-tank missile systems, small arms, and ammunition for all of the above. Funding would also go towards training and military reforms.
“As Ukraine faces yet another build-up of Russian troops on its border and the threat of a mid-January invasion, the United States should be doing everything it can right now to deter Russia and provide Ukraine the supplies and support it needs to defend itself,” said Republican Senator Jim Risch, who sponsored the bill.
Provisions include strengthening sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany, which has to date evaded the U.S.’s most serious sanctions due to the decisions of U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration. The U.S. and European allies have recently discussed shutting down Nord Stream 2 as one possible punishment in the event of an invasion.
Finally, the bill would designate Russia as “a state sponsor of terrorism” if it further invades Ukraine.
Congress previously allocated $300 million in military aid to Ukraine as part of the annual defense bill, approved by the House on Dec. 7 and by the Senate on Dec. 15.
The U.S. has invested over $2.5 billion in Ukraine’s security since 2014, when Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and sparked a war in Donbas that has killed more than 14,000 people and displaced at least 1.5 million people.
The defense bill was introduced shortly after Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin spoke for two hours about Russia’s buildup on Dec. 7.
The latest security crisis unfolded in November when domestic and foreign intelligence reports indicated that Russia was amassing nearly 100,000 troops near Ukraine and in occupied territories.
These findings greatly alarmed Kyiv and the West about a potential large-scale military invasion of Ukraine.
According to the Ukrainian intelligence, Russia might try to seize much of Ukraine’s territory in the south and east up to the Dnipro River in early 2022.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on Dec. 3 that the invasion is probable though not yet imminent.
(c) Kyiv Independent