It's Crucial that US Congress Extends the Lend-Lease Program - Ukraine's Ambassador
For Ukraine, it is of utmost importance that the US Congress extends the Lend-Lease Act through the entirety of 2024.
In an interview with Suspilne, Ukraine's Ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, emphasized the significance of this legislation.
She noted that since the start of the comprehensive invasion, the US Congress has made amendments to the budget several times, allocating assistance to Ukraine totaling $113 billion.
"President Biden has submitted new budget amendments, providing additional funding for Ukraine. We are hopeful that we can persuade Congress, and Congress will support and approve them. However, if not, we cannot find ourselves in a situation where there will be no possibility for the United States to provide us with weaponry," the diplomat stated.
Thus, according to Markarova, it is vital for the Lend-Lease Act, expiring at the end of September, to remain in place as the fourth instrument of potential aid.
"We do not buy the weaponry supplied by the US, but budgetary rules work clearly here. The Pentagon needs the authorization to allocate weaponry to us. If these authorizations expire, the next option will be to sign leasing or rental agreements, apply the Lend-Lease Act, and receive the same support as under the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA). This is why it is crucial," Markarova explained.
She pointed out that the co-authors of the Lend-Lease Act are currently focusing on providing additional budgetary funding because it allows for the utilization of not just one program.
"It enables us not only to receive what is available but also to purchase for ourselves. For instance, we already buy new Patriots, NASAMS, radars, all the kamikaze drones used by our military, rockets. Initially, we were getting the 155mm caliber almost entirely from stocks, but they too are not infinite," she said.
Markarova warned that if there are discussions in Congress about assistance and they persist for several months, a gap will emerge between the funds that have already been depleted and those that will be allocated.
"We cannot afford this pause. Therefore, even though leasing and renting involve commitments that need to be repaid and compensated, if there's no option for receiving weaponry or leasing weaponry, of course, we will choose to lease," she stressed.
Recall that on May 9, US President Joe Biden signed a bill granting Ukraine defense aid through an expedited procedure – the so-called Lend-Lease Act. This implies that assistance in the form of arms and other civilian support will be provided more swiftly and operationally, without explanations or lengthy justifications to Congress.
As reported by The Gaze, the White House stated that long-term security agreements for Ukraine go beyond any US administration. The assistance will be enshrined in the respective intergovernmental agreements, which will remain effective regardless of who occupies the position of the American President.