President Biden on Monday signed a bill into law reviving the World War II-era lend-lease program for Ukraine, paving the way for an escalation in US military aid to Kyiv.
The Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 allows Biden to send weapons to Ukraine free of charge while technically requiring payment at a later date. Under the lend-lease act during World War II, the US sent billions of dollars in weapons to the Soviet Union, China, Britain, and other allies.
The legislation received massive bipartisan support in Congress, passing by voice vote in the Senate and by a vote of 417-10 in the House, with only Republicans voting against the bill.
According to a summary of the bill, it waives “certain requirements related to the President’s authority to lend or lease defense articles if the defense articles are intended for Ukraine’s government or the governments of other Eastern European countries affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
The bill’s signing comes after President Biden asked Congress for $33 billion in new aid for Ukraine, including $20.4 billion in military assistance. He has nearly exhausted the funds for arms shipments to Kyiv from a $13.6 billion Ukraine aid package that was included in a spending bill he signed in March.
President Biden waited until Monday to sign the bill since May 9 is the day Russia marks its victory day for the Soviet defeat of the Nazis in 1945. Ironically, the Soviet Union was one of the largest beneficiaries of US military aid under the lend-lease act during World War II.
According to the US Embassy in Russia, the program provided the Soviet Union with $11.3 billion in assistance, the equivalent of $180 billion in today’s currency, from 1941 to 1945.