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Republicans demand ‘clarity’ on Ukraine aid

Several legislators have urged the White House to account for billions in tax dollars sent to Kiev in recent months

FILE PHOTO: A US airman checks pallets of 155mm shells ultimately bound for Ukraine, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, April 29, 2022. ©  AP / Alex Brandon

Several GOP lawmakers have demanded that the government disclose exactly how much US assistance has been sent to Ukraine since last year, citing multi-billion-dollar “discrepancies” between various official estimates. 

In a letter penned on Monday by Republican Senator JD Vance and Representatives Chip Roy and Matt Gaetz, the lawmakers called on National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to clarify Washington’s Ukraine aid, after the official said the administration had authorized just shy of $80 billion in assistance.

“The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has provided a spreadsheet that estimates the appropriated amount of funding for the war in Ukraine… at $111 billion. The differential between these two figures is $31.1 billion, a gap larger than the administration’s latest Ukraine supplemental budget request,” the letter said, adding “It is difficult to envision a benign explanation for this lack of clarity.”

The three Republicans went on to point to “consistent concerns about the forthrightness of this administration regarding the total figures for Ukraine aid,” saying there are “legitimate reservations” about government oversight of the money.

READ MORE: US running low on cash for Ukraine – White House

Though the lawmakers said they had requested more detailed data from the OMB to determine if there had been any unreported spending increases in Ukraine, they said the office did not include the information sought in its latest response.

Monday’s letter was sent amid a contentious budget battle in Washington, where lawmakers are currently debating whether to include an additional $25 billion for Ukraine within a stop-gap funding bill designed to avert a government shutdown. According to the New York Times, some GOP members remain opposed to the aid provision, believing it will delay the urgently needed bill before a September 30 shutdown deadline.

Speaking to CNN on Monday, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said failure to pass the supplementary aid would have a “significant impact” on the battlefield in Ukraine, suggesting Washington only has funds for “the next few weeks or so.”

However, a representative for the Pentagon, Chris Sherwood, appeared to contradict Kirby’s statement in comments last Friday, saying that US military operations related to Ukraine would not be affected by a government shutdown. He noted that this would include the training of troops and provision of arms, and said this aid is deemed “essential” and an “exempted activity.”

READ MORE: Ukraine’s top spy issues warning on US-made tanks

While questions remain over the exact amount of US aid delivered to Ukraine since fighting with Russia escalated last year, Washington has approved dozens of arms shipments worth billions of dollars, in addition to financial assistance and other forms of aid. Weapons packages have included a long line of heavy and advanced weapons, such as the M1 Abrams main battle tank, the Patriot air defense battery, and the HIMARS multi-launch rocket platform.

Moscow has consistently slammed foreign arms shipments to Kiev, arguing they will do little to alter its military aims and only prolong the conflict. Responding to the Abrams shipments after their approval in January, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declared that the American weapons would “burn like all the rest of them,” referring to other Western military hardware already neutralized by Russian troops.

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