The United States House of Representatives has approved a bill authorizing $150 million to be spent on defense aid for Ukraine in fiscal year 2017 under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.
A total of 371 lawmakers out of total 435 voted for the document, while 48 voted against, the House’s website notes.
Regulating a total of $578 billion in spending for the U.S. military through Sept. 30, the document earmarks $150 million in addition to the $200 million previously allocated but unspent by former U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration in December
U.S. spending on non-lethal defense aid for Ukraine in 2016 was $300 million.
The document says the funds would be allocated by U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, acting in coordination with the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, to provide Ukraine’s government with assistance in obtaining equipment, training, logistics and intelligence support, supplies, and services for Ukraine’s armed forces and security agencies.
The bill allows the sending of lethal weapons of a defensive nature to Ukraine, a step approved by Congress but blocked by the Obama administration following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and military aggression in eastern Ukraine starting in 2014.
In separate entry, the bill stipulates that none of the funds allocated can be used to procure or transfer man-portable air defense systems for Ukraine.
In addition, the U.S. House proposes to ban the Secretary of Defense from dealing with Russian state-run weapons export company Rosoboronexport. According to the document, neither the secretary, nor any other U.S. defense agency official, can use the allocated funds when entering into a contract, signing a memorandum of understanding or cooperation agreement with Rosoboronexport or any of its subsidiaries.
Neither can the money be used to make a grant to, or provide a loan or loan guarantee to Rosoboronexport or any of its subsidiaries.
The U.S. government imposed sanctions on Rosoboronexport in September 2015 for its alleged complicity in transferring technologies and equipment for the production of missiles and weapons of mass destruction to Iran, North Korea and Syria.
U.S. lawmakers see no possibility of further cooperation with Russia’s weapons exporter until it ceases the supply of lethal military equipment to Syria and Russian aggression against Ukraine ends.
The document says the U.S. defense secretary may waive the legal limitations on contracts with Rosoboronexport if Russian troops are withdrawn from occupied Crimea, or they return to their military bases on the contested peninsula as stipulated in Russian-Ukrainian treaties.
After being successfully passed in the lower house of the U.S. Congress, the document must be also approved after discussion in the Senate.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is expected to submit a bill to Congress to increase defense spending in 2017 by $30 billion, as well as boost the Pentagon budget by up to $54 billion in fiscal year 2018, which starts on Oct. 1, 2017.
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