US announces $2 billion to help Ukraine make its own weapons

US announces  billion to help Ukraine make its own weapons

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday announced a $2 billion aid package for Ukraine largely intended to help the embattled country grow its indigenous defense capabilities and move away from Soviet-era equipment.

The $2 billion in Ukraine Foreign Military Financing mostly comes from the $60 billion economic and security aid for Kyiv Congress passed in April after months of delays. The State Department said the $2 billion will be used to establish a Ukraine Defense Enterprise Program.

Blinken, during a trip to Kyiv, said the new fund would “assist Ukraine in acquiring” additional weapons while “investing in Ukraine’s defense industrial base, helping to strengthen even more its capacity to produce what it needs for itself but also to produce for others.”

“Finally, using this fund [will] help Ukraine purchase military equipment from other countries, not just the United States, for Ukraine’s use,” he added.

Most U.S. Foreign Military Financing in previous Ukraine aid packages has gone to eastern European countries supporting Kyiv in its war effort against Russia’s invasion. The $2 billion tranche is the largest amount of Foreign Military Financing the U.S. has ever given Ukraine.

Foreign Military Financing is cash assistance the State Department gives to friendly countries to allow them to purchase military equipment from U.S. defense contractors. Israel and Taiwan are the only two recipients who have previously been granted permission to use some Foreign Military Financing on their own defense companies through a special mechanism called offshore procurement.

The State Department said the $2 billion Foreign Military Financing for Ukraine “may also facilitate co-production between Ukrainian and U.S. industry and help support Ukraine’s defense industrial base to strengthen Ukraine’s capacity to produce weapons to defend itself.”

The Biden administration scaled up an effort to help Ukraine build defense equipment on its soil in December with the Commerce Department hosting a U.S.-Ukraine defense-industrial base conference.

Lockheed Martin and RTX, formerly Raytheon Technologies, signed a memorandum of understanding in September to produce Javelin anti-tank missiles in Ukraine.

Most U.S. assistance has come in the form of arms transfers from existing U.S. weapons stockpiles and through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which allows the Pentagon to place contracts on additional weapons systems for Kyiv.

But the Biden administration has not allowed Kyiv to use long-range U.S. weapons to strike military assets in Russian territory, citing escalatory risks. The U.K. recently reversed a similar restriction on Ukraine’s use of long-range British weapons.

Those restrictions do not apply to Kyiv’s indigenous capabilities. For instance, Ukraine has used its own drones to strike Russian oil facilities — drawing protests from the Biden administration.

A group of Ukrainian parliamentarians visited Washington this week in a bid to get the U.S. to lift its ban on using American weapons to strike inside Russia, Politico reported Tuesday.

Bryant Harris is the Congress reporter for Defense News. He has covered U.S. foreign policy, national security, international affairs and politics in Washington since 2014. He has also written for Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor, Al Jazeera English and IPS News.

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