The Biden administration announced on Tuesday that it was sending up to $300 million in weapons to Ukraine, the first new aid package for the country since funding ran out in late December.

The package, pulled together from money that Army accountants cobbled from savings from contracts that came in under bid, includes air defense interceptors, artillery rounds and armor systems, senior defense officials said. It was unclear whether the measure included longer-range missiles known as ATACMs.

It is a stopgap measure at best, the officials said, but Ukraine is in dire need of air defense systems in particular, as Russia has continued its bombardment of towns particularly in the east.

The makeshift solution would keep advancing Russian troops at bay for only a few weeks, one official said.

Announcing the aid package at the White House, the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said that “Ukrainian troops have fought bravely, are fighting bravely, are fighting bravely throughout this war, but they are now forced to ration their ammunition under pressure on multiple fronts.”

He said the new package would “keep Ukraine’s guns firing for a period, but only a short period.” Mr. Sullivan called for Congress to pass a new Ukraine aid bill “as soon as possible.”

He said that Ukraine desperately needed the assistance to hold the line against Russian attacks,” but that “it goes without saying this package does not displace and should not delay the critical need to pass the bipartisan national security bill.”

The Senate passed an emergency aid bill including $60.1 billion for Ukraine. But the measure faces an uncertain fate in the House of Representatives, where Republican leaders have refused to put the measure to a vote. While congressional officials say there is a critical mass of support for continuing to arm Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression, the Republican Party is increasingly turning away from its traditional hawkish posture and belief in projecting American power and democratic principles around the world.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican of Louisiana who has opposed aiding Ukraine, must navigate a handful of ultraconservative lawmakers who have said they will move to oust him if he allows a vote on Ukraine aid without stringent immigration measures attached.

On Tuesday, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, urged Mr. Johnson to hold a vote on the Ukraine aid package.

“I want to encourage the speaker again to allow a vote,” he said.

For President Biden, who has led the way in calling for the West to stand up for Ukraine against Russia’s invasion and occupation, the issue has become an embarrassing one on the international stage.

The American political paralysis has led, Pentagon officials said, to critical shortages on the battlefields of Ukraine. As each day goes by without a fresh supply of munitions and artillery, and Ukrainian crews ration the shells they have, morale suffers.

“When Russian troops advance and its guns fire, Ukraine does not have enough ammunition to fire back; that’s costing terrain,” Mr. Sullivan said. “It’s costing lives and it’s costing us, the United States and the NATO alliance, strategically.”

Since Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration has sent more than $75 billion in cash and equipment to the country for its defense. Most of the aid has gone to Ukraine’s military operations, keeping its government running and addressing its humanitarian needs.

The money ran out in December, and Mr. Biden asked Congress for the authority to begin a new infusion of cash and equipment that only it can approve. But many Republicans object to pouring more taxpayer dollars into the conflict.

Senior intelligence officials warned on Monday that without additional American aid, Ukraine faced the prospect of continued battlefield losses as Russia uses a network of arms suppliers and increases its supply of technology from China.

In public testimony during the annual survey of worldwide threats facing the United States, the officials told Congress that any continued delay of U.S. aid would lead to additional territorial gains by Russia over the next year, the consequences of which would be felt in Europe and in the Pacific.


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Credit: NYTimes.com

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