Ukraine fears ammunition shortage: US Senator Paul blocks $40 billion

Ukraine fears ammunition shortage
US Senator Paul blocked $40 billion

By Roland Peters

There is currently a rare consensus in the US Congress: Ukraine must be helped as effectively as possible against Russia. Senator Rand Paul opposes it. He blocked a needed aid program and spoke about his own country’s problems.

Russia’s war on Ukraine even succeeded in uniting the politicians of the undermined US Congress – or so it seems. The faction leaders of the Democrats and Republicans had agreed in the House of Representatives on a huge aid package for kyiv, and the passage now necessary in the Senate was to become a formality. With continued military and humanitarian assistance, the United States wants to support Ukraine in the fight against the invading Russian army. But a senator stands in the way. Rand Paul of Kentucky raises his finger to warn against the roughly $40 billion package.

Paul is a Republican and, with his reservations, agrees, at least in part, with the criticisms of some conservatives. For example, one congressman said that Congress was essentially clearing the way for President Joe Biden to stop the United States from “going on everybody’s war to fund everybody’s war.” Although Paul does not want to drop the package, he has achieved one thing: attention for him and his message, with all international solidarity with Ukraine, without forgetting the American citizens and their daily problems. Paul is seeking re-election to the Senate in November for another six-year term. He is also reportedly considering running in the 2024 presidential election.

The aid passed the House of Representatives with an overwhelming majority. In the Senate, too, there is broad cross-party agreement, which would be unthinkable on national issues like a pandemic package or key projects for the future. Frequent objections are, for example, a state budget spiraling out of control, i.e. new debts, and the resulting inflation. Either way, consumer prices are already skyrocketing. In April, it was 8.3% year-on-year.

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Ukrainian soldiers on their way to the front.

(Photo: Reuters)

Often, such things don’t get much attention in international affairs because common enemies also unite Congress. Rand Paul now pays a lot of attention to recalls. The senator insists that a special inspector be appointed to oversee the spending. He is not thinking of just anyone, but of John Sopko and his team, who so far have mainly dealt with Afghanistan. But the US mission in Central Asia ended in the middle of last year. Special Inspector Sopko was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2012.

“Shoveling Money Out the Door”

“I think they have to go all the way,” the senator said laconically about his blockade. He warned of the scale of new spending. “We cannot save Ukraine by letting the American economy sink. Americans are already feeling the pain of inflation, and Congress seems poised to add to it, he argued: “They’re shoveling in money as fast as they can.”

Ukraine’s leaders almost constantly ask for more help internationally, and the United States is by far the most important support. As of April 23, it was more than 10 billion euros. During the same period, support of around €2 billion came from Germany. According to the US government, it must obtain congressional approval by May 19 before it can continue to provide military support to Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian ambassador, the defenders lack supplies and ammunition.

The current aid package includes $6 billion for more weapons and other aid to the Ukrainian military and $8.7 billion to replenish US stocks of military equipment already sent to Ukraine. With additional financial resources, the secret services and the American command in Europe will be strengthened, and the Ukrainian economy will be maintained. 4.4 billion dollars must be spent on food aid and 900 million dollars for Ukrainian refugees. US President Joe Biden will also be allowed to send $11 billion worth of military equipment and weapons to Ukraine without further congressional approval.

Senate Leader Chuck Schumer said, “There’s only one thing stopping us: a young senator from Kentucky because he wants to legislate his own changes at the last minute. He says: my way or not. Mitch McConnell, leader of the Republican faction, also showed incomprehension. “Ukraine is not asking us to fight this war. They are only asking us for the resources to defend against this invasion and they need help now.”

The text of the law must now be amended and will then be presented again to the House of Representatives. This could delay the aid package by several weeks. Weeks in which the tide of a war can turn decisively. The Russians currently have the upper hand and occupy large parts of the country east and south of Ukraine. Although Kyiv and Moscow are talking to each other, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s publicly stated goal is to drive the attackers out of all parts of the country – including breakaway areas in the east and Crimea.

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