Blinken pledges billions more for Ukraine military

2022-09-09 13:30:05China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

The U.S. financial pipeline to Europe continued to flow on Thursday, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveling to Kyiv and pledging $2.8 billion more in military aid to Ukraine and its neighbors.

The ongoing tranches, however, have raised questions from some in the U.S. and around the world.

The new assistance comes as the U.S. looks to aid Ukraine's counteroffensive against Russia — and amid fears that public support is waning.

Blinken said the administration would provide $2.2 billion in long-term military financing to Ukraine and 18 of its neighbors "potentially at risk of future Russian aggression".

That's on top of a $675 million package of heavy weaponry, ammunition and armored vehicles for Ukraine alone, announced by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, earlier in the day.

"I have directed a $675 million drawdown of arms and equipment from @DeptofDefense stockpiles for Ukraine, as well as an additional $2.2 billion to support long-term defense investments in Ukraine and 18 neighbors," Blinken tweeted on Thursday.

Those neighbors are: Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, the State Department said.

Meeting virtually, U.S. President Joe Biden and the leaders of U.S. allies emphasized their countries' support "for Ukraine as it defends itself from Russian aggression", according to a White House readout.

"Russia's weaponization of energy" and what to do about it — a major concern for this winter in Europe — was also discussed, said press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

Speaking at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed claims of energy weaponization as "nonsense".

He said pipelines operated by Russia's Gazprom would flow but required a release of necessary parts.

"Give us turbines and we'll turn on Nord Stream tomorrow, but they won't give us anything," Putin told the audience.

"There are contractual obligations, and if there are any political decisions that contradict them, then we simply won't fulfill them," he said. "We won't supply anything at all if it contradicts our economic interests, in this case. We won't supply gas, oil, coal or heating oil."

"The EU authorities are denying European businesses accessible raw materials, energy and markets," Putin said. He added that plummeting standards of living and rising inflation now being experienced by Europeans into the winter months will continue to be sacrificed to American interests until those leaders finally come to their senses.

In remarks to the United Nations Security Council meeting on Ukraine on Thursday, Chinese envoy Geng Shuang said: "Since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, China has consistently emphasized that the supply of weapons will not bring peace, and that adding fuel to fire will only complicate the problem.

"Equally worrying is the scenario (of) a large number of weapons and ammunition falling into the wrong hands, causing endless trouble, and creating security risks in Ukraine and in the wider region," Geng said.

"There's no lack of lessons in this regard. In Afghanistan, up to seven billion U.S. dollars' worth of weapons and equipment have been discarded at will upon the hasty withdrawal of foreign troops, prompting rampant black markets, in which weapons are openly sold and bought (in) daylight and are easily accessible to anyone, even children.

"These weapons will be a long-term obstacle to rebuilding lasting peace in Afghanistan and will also pose huge risks to the security of regional countries," the envoy continued.

The $2.2 billion in so-called Foreign Military Financing by the U.S. has already been appropriated by Congress, but lawmakers, some of whom have expressed concerns about the massive amounts of money going to Ukraine, must still approve the actual allotments. Just two weeks ago, the administration had announced a $3 billion package of support for Ukraine.

Foreign Military Financing allows recipients to purchase U.S.-made equipment.

While Congress has generally backed the funds for Ukraine, the massive cash transfer has elicited some opposition from citizens.

On Twitter, "ProudArmyBrat" wrote: "Blinken made a surprise visit to Ukraine to give them another $2 BILLION of our money!! TOTAL MADNESS!!"

"Antony Blinken made an unscheduled visit today to Kiev to announce another $3 billion in military aid to Ukraine. This entire war is just a massive wealth transfer to defense contractors and the U.S. capitalist class," tweeted "Radio Free Amanda".

"Imagine an American official making an unscheduled visit to Flint (Michigan) or Jackson (Mississippi) to announce $3 billion in aid to those cities," wrote Twitter user "The.Econ.Dev".

Both of those cities have sustained severe water infrastructure issues. In Flint, it started in 2014, and in Jackson, just recently.

Asked about continued congressional support for the massive aid packages, Austin said the administration will provide its rationale to lawmakers, and, "I fully expect that it will continue to receive broad bipartisan support because our leaders recognize how important this is."

The U.S. spending on Ukraine for military and civilian aid is now around $60 billion. It was $54 billion in May, according to The New York Times.

Daniel L. Davis, a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, said that the U.S. has not laid out a clear objective in Ukraine.

"Since we don't know what we're trying to accomplish, no one can tell the American people how much the effort is going to cost, how long it's going to last, or even what success would look like," he wrote on on Sept 3. "If this sounds familiar, it should: it is basically the same aimless, incompetent foreign policy the United States has been pursuing for decades."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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