U.S. expected to announce hundreds of millions in new security aid to Ukraine soon

The final amount was not finalized on Tuesday but is expected to be close to $700 million.

President Joe Biden is expected to use his withdrawal power to authorize the new Ukraine aid package.

If approved, the addition of about $700 million in security assistance would bring total assistance to Ukraine to more than $3 billion since the start of the Biden administration, including nearly $2.5 billion since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine’s defense budget for 2020 was only around $6 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. In less than two months, the United States provided nearly half of that security assistance, underscoring the pace at which the White House has worked to send weapons and equipment.

Reuters first reported on the new security assistance program.

The Pentagon will organize a meeting with the arms manufacturers

The new tranche of cash for Ukraine comes as the Pentagon prepares to convene a meeting of its top arms manufacturers on Wednesday to discuss the industry’s ability to support Ukraine in a protracted war with the Russia, according to a defense official and an industry official.

The confidential discussion will include proposals for accelerating production of existing systems and developing new systems critical to the Defense Ministry’s assistance to Ukraine and allies, the defense official said.

The meeting will bring together the eight major defense contractors, such as General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and others. This is “part of our ongoing and frequent dialogue with industry partners to ensure a resilient industrial base that meets the Department’s needs,” the official said.

The meeting between the defense contractors and the Pentagon was arranged just days ago, according to the defense industry official with direct knowledge of the arrangements. The official said the contractors were told the focus of the meeting was “industry’s ability” to support Ukraine if the war continued for several years.

The sense of things, the official said, is that the United States “assumes this is going to be a multi-year effort” in a scenario where, at a minimum, Ukraine will not be able to manufacture weapons safely. safety in his own country.

But at the meeting, the official said, the contractors are likely to discuss the serious challenges still facing defense makers in the United States, including persistent and serious supply chain problems and the lack of manpower. – affordable labor. All of this continues to constrain defense manufacturing capacity and could worsen as defense spending in Ukraine’s budget and contracts compete for manufacturing capacity, the official said.

The issue of capacity also impacts the manufacture of essential ammunition supplies, even though most of these are made in government-owned facilities operated by contractors.

This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN’s Jeremy Herb and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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