WASHINGTON ― President Joe Biden on Monday reestablished a World War II-era program to support foreign nations, enabling the U.S. to more quickly arm Ukraine as it fights against a Russian invasion.
The president signed a bill approved by most lawmakers from both parties that updates the Lend-Lease Act of 1941, designed to help European countries resist Adolf Hitler. The legislation gives the president greater authority to loan or contract out American military equipment, with the receiving nation covering the cost later ― though Biden aides have been cautious about describing how aggressively he will do so.
“Every day Ukrainians fight for their lives… The cost of the fight is not cheap but caving to aggression is even more costly,” Biden said at an Oval Office event before enacting the law. Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) — the first Ukrainian-born member of Congress — joined him at the signing of the bill, along with Vice President Kamala Harris, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.)
The law went into effect just as Russia celebrated its own role in World War II and the defeat of Hitler.
The only members of Congress to oppose the measure were 10 Republicans in the House of Representatives.
The Biden administration is also seeking $33 billion in new funding to support Ukraine, covering military assistance, humanitarian aid, defense programs for neighboring states and other initiatives.
Russian forces have, for now, mostly paused their offensive to prepare for a big campaign to capture additional territory in eastern Ukraine in the weeks ahead, experts believe. Ukraine’s international partners are speeding up efforts to strengthen local defenses before intense fighting begins. On Sunday, Britain pledged additional military aid.
Russia’s government has accused pro-Ukraine nations of acting to “provoke instability.”
After Biden signed the bill, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Russia’s argument that the West had caused its invasion of Ukraine was “revisionist history.”
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