The Pentagon will exempt its operations supporting Ukraine in the war against Russia from a government shutdown that will happen if Congress fails to pass a funding bill by September 30.
During government shutdowns, the US military typically suspends activities that are deemed not vital to US national security. But Pentagon spokesman Chris Sherwood told POLITICO on Thursday that US support for Ukraine would not be suspended.
“Operation Atlantic Resolve is an excepted activity under a government lapse in appropriations,” Sherwood said, using the name for US military activities in Europe that have come in response to events in Ukraine since 2014, the year a US-backed coup in Kyiv led to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the civil war in Ukraine’s Donbas region.
US support for Ukraine includes training of Ukrainian forces in the US and in Europe, arms shipments, and providing targeting intelligence. Just two days earlier, Sherwood told POLITICO that US support for Ukraine might be hindered by a shutdown.
The POLITICO report on the Pentagon’s decision to exempt the Ukraine operations came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Washington. The Pentagon said Austin met with Zelensky “to reaffirm the steadfast US support for Ukraine.”
The exemption demonstrates the importance the Biden administration has placed on fueling the proxy war in Ukraine. While being done in the name of national security, the policy makes the US much less safe by risking a direct war with Russia, which possesses the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.