US agrees £76 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan after months of delays

24 April 2024, 06:02 | Updated: 24 April 2024, 06:40

US agrees £76 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan
US agrees £76 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

The US has agreed a £76.2 billion aid package to send to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, after months of delays and disputes.

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The $95 million aid agreement was voted through by the US Senate on Tuesday night in a 79-18 vote, after Congress approved it on Saturday.

The bill will now go before Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it into law quickly, to enable more weapons to be sent to Ukraine promptly.

Ukraine is at a critical phase of its war with Russia, over two years since the invasion, and has been struggling to hold its front line.

Some $61 billion (£49 billion) of the aid will go to Ukraine, $26 billion (£21 billion) to Israel and $8 billion (£6 billion) to Taiwan.

Former UK ambassador to Ukraine reacts to new aid promise from the US

The Democrats' Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said that if the bill had not passed "America would have paid a price economically, politically, militarily".

"Very few things we have done have risen to this level of historic importance," he said in an interview with the Associated Press.

On the Senate floor, Mr Schumer said the Senate was sending a message to US allies: "We will stand with you."

Mr Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday the US will send badly needed air defence weaponry as soon as the legislation is passed.

"The President has assured me that the package will be approved quickly and that it will be powerful, strengthening our air defense as well as long-range and artillery capabilities," Mr Zelenskyy said.

He later thanked the Senate for passing the aid bill.

Mr Schumer and his Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell worked to get the backing of Senators who were opposed to more funding for Ukraine, agreeing to tie aid for Kyiv with more support for Israel.

They also worked with the Republican leader of Congress, Mike Johnson, to overcome opposition to giving Ukraine more aid.

Mr McConnell said in a separate interview before the vote that it "is one of the biggest days in the time that I've been here".

"At least on this episode, I think we turned the tables on the isolationists," Mr McConnell said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Picture: Getty

In an effort to gain more votes, Republicans in the House majority also added a bill to the foreign aid package that could ban the social media app TikTok in the US if its Chinese owners do not sell their stake within a year.

That legislation had wide bipartisan support in both chambers.

The TikTok bill was one of several tweaks Mr Johnson added to the package the Senate passed in February as he tried to move the bill through the House despite significant opposition within his conference.

Other additions include a stipulation that 9 billion dollars (£7.2 billion) of the economic assistance to Ukraine is in the form of "forgivable loans"; provisions that allow the US to seize frozen Russian central bank assets to rebuild Ukraine; and bills to impose sanctions on Iran, Russia, China and criminal organisations that traffic fentanyl.