A draft bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to boost the support of Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity as well as increasing defense assistance to Kyiv, according to a statement by Ukraine’s embassy in Washington D.C. on May 31.

In particular, as the embassy reported, the draft bill envisages assigning Ukraine the status of a major U.S. non-NATO ally which would allow the U.S. to provide Ukraine with weapons under a simplified procedure.

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The draft No.3047 was introduced by the U.S. Rep. Michael T. McCaul, a Texas Republican, on May 30 and immediately referred to the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs. It was also supported by New York Democrat Eliot L. Engel, Illinois Republican Adam Kinzinger, and Democrat William R. Keating representing Massachusetts.

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As of June 1, the draft bill’s text is not yet available on the House’s website.

However, as the Ukrainian embassy said, the bill aims to amplify Ukraine’s defense, particularly through “providing military hardware, selling lethal weapons to Ukraine’s Armed Forces, as well as enhancing Ukraine’s ability to confront Russia’s cyberattacks.”

Furthermore, it envisages designating Ukraine as a major non-NATO ally for the period of time up until Ukraine joins the 29-nation alliance in the future, according to the embassy. This status assigned by the U.S. government marks countries that are allies to the U.S. and have a strategic partnership with Washington but are not NATO member nations.

It particularly allows U.S. partner nations to enjoy extended access to U.S. military equipment designated for sale or as defense aid as well as priority deliveries of U.S. military equipment.

Also, an allied nation’s businesses have the opportunity to bid on certain contracts to repair and maintain U.S. military equipment outside the United States.

Since 1989, over 15 countries across the world have been assigned this status, namely: Australia, Israel, Egypt, Japan, South Korea, Jordan, New Zealand, Argentina, Bahrain, the Philippines, Thailand, Kuwait, Morocco, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tunisia.

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Since 2003, Taiwan is also de facto treated as a major non-NATO ally, and on May 8, 2019, President Donald J. Trump in his address to the Congress called on designating this status to Brazil.

This is not the first attempt to include Ukraine into the list. Back in February 2014, another draft bill titled “Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014,” introduced to the House by Ohio Democrat Marcy Kaptur, particularly envisaged assigning Ukraine, along with Georgia and Moldova, with the status of a major non-NATO U.S. ally. It was introduced just days before Russia invaded Ukraine.

But the bill was never put into action in the following years.

According to Ukraine’s embassy, the new bill strengthens America’s support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders as well as its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. The bill also pressures Ukraine for more democracy, rule of law, transparency and responsibility in the public sector, and combating corruption.

Besides, it noted that Ukrainians are free to define their own course in foreign and security policies without any intimidation or pressure by any foreign country.

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Ukraine has the right to defend itself from Russia’s aggression by receiving U.S. defense aid, the bill also states.

The bill rejects any forceful territorial changes in Ukraine, particularly seen during Russia’s invasion in Crimea and the Donbas. It decries the ongoing detention of 24 Ukrainian sailors attacked and seized in the Black Sea by Russia on Nov. 25, 2018.

And it persistently calls on Russia to completely fulfill the Minsk agreements and to support an international peace settlement and security in the embattled region.

“We highly appreciate the firm bipartisan and bicameral support of Ukraine in the U.S. Congress,” the Ukrainian embassy noted. “We consider the introduced draft bill as a new important step aimed to enhance Ukrainian-American strategic partnership in combating Russian aggression.”

As recently as of May 24, the Ukrainian embassy also reported that the the U.S. Senate Armed Forces Committee had proposed to increase U.S. defense aid to Ukraine in the fiscal year of 2020 by $50 million to $300 million; this includes $100 million to be provided for lethal weaponry to Kyiv next year.

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In general, according to the Ukrainian embassy in Washington, the U.S. has spent nearly $1.1 billion on helping Ukraine repel Russia’s aggression since 2014.

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