US President Joe Biden signed off on Monday on new Congressionally-granted powers to dramatically streamline the process of providing Ukraine with military aid.
Biden signed the Lend-Lease Act in the Oval Office as Kyiv’s forces continue to combat a Russian military offensive that has entered its third month. The costs of US military aid are deferred under the program.
Addressing reporters in brief remarks, the president said the US is supporting Ukrainians “in their fight to defend their country and their democracy against Putin’s brutal war.” He was referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Biden administration has sent over $3.8 billion in military aid to Ukraine since Russia began its war on Feb. 24, and has requested an additional $33 billion from Congress to aid the country economically and militarily.
Biden has acknowledged that the cost of aiding Kyiv against Moscow is “not cheap,” but has repeatedly maintained it would be far more costly to do nothing.
“Every day Ukrainians fight for their lives,” Biden said in the Oval Office, flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris and key lawmakers. “The cost of the fight is not cheap but caving to aggression is even more costly.”
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Lend-Lease Act 417-10 on April 28, after the Senate did so via a voice vote. All of the US lawmakers who opposed the act in the House were Republicans.
The last time a Lend-Lease Act was enacted was prior to the US entry into World War II when Washington used the power to assist allies, including the UK and Soviet Union, in their fight against Nazi Germany. The new powers signed into law by Biden update the 1941 law to aid Ukraine.
At least 3,381 civilians have been killed and 3,680 others injured in Ukraine since the war began on Feb. 24, according to UN estimates. The true toll is feared to be much higher.
More than 5.8 million people have fled to other countries, with some 7.7 million people internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency.