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DOD Able to Send Additional Assistance to Ukraine Using Unexpected Army Savings

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (March 12, 2024) -- The Defense Department today announced additional security assistance for Ukraine. Included in this assistance are artillery rounds and rockets for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. The package totals $300 million.

This latest round of presidential drawdown authority, or PDA, is the first this year and was made possible after the Army negotiated a lower price for replacing supplies already sent to Ukraine. With that finding, additional funds became available.

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Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, the U.S. has provided some $44.2 billion in security assistance to Ukraine. That assistance has come through either PDA, where with presidential approval equipment can be withdrawn from existing U.S. military inventory and then shipped to Ukraine, or through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, where the U.S. commits to buying new equipment for Ukraine from defense contractors.

Funds for USAI have run out, and the U.S. can no longer buy equipment for Ukraine unless Congress provides more money.

With PDA, equipment taken from U.S. inventory must eventually be replaced with new equipment paid for with replenishment funds that must also be authorized by Congress. While the Defense Department has been authorized by the president to pull even more equipment from its inventory for Ukraine, Congress has not agreed to provide additional funds to replace that equipment. Sending more equipment without the promise of funds to replace it would be risky for DOD and would affect national security.

As a result of USAI funding running out and inadequate replenishment funding to replace equipment sent to Ukraine through PDA, DOD had stopped sending support to Ukraine. The latest round of PDA was made possible when the Army found additional funds after renegotiating contract costs to replace equipment that's already been sent to Ukraine.

This PDA package is unique in that regard, and a senior defense official said Tuesday that the DOD can't expect to continue assisting Ukraine using cost savings.

"We had savings come in that will allow us to offset the cost of a new drawdown package," said a senior defense official today. "The savings that have come in here are going to help square the circle of what the secretary said of needing to have new funding come in to be comfortable doing any more drawdown. We [did] have funds come in that can cover the cost of one more package. But this is a bit of an ad hoc or one-time shot. We don't know if or when future savings will come in. And we certainly can't count on this as a way of doing business."

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the security assistance announced today will provide much-needed ammunition to help the Ukrainians, but unless Congress acts to appropriate more funding, the U.S. will no longer be able to help.

"This ammunition will keep Ukraine's guns firing for a period, but only a short period," Sullivan said. "This package does not displace and should not delay the critical need to pass the bipartisan national security bill."

Without additional funding from Congress, Sullivan said, the U.S. cannot continue to support Ukraine's fight against Russia without impacting its own readiness.

"Congress must act, the House of Representatives must pass the bipartisan national security supplemental as soon as possible," Sullivan said. "The House has got to pass the supplemental as soon as possible to allow us to continue the flow of vital security ... assistance to Ukraine, to replenish the U.S. military's munitions stocks, to invest in our industrial base, and to support jobs in 40 states across the United States. The world is watching, the clock is ticking, and we need to see action as rapidly as possible."

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