WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., John Cornyn, R-Tex., Ben Cardin, D-Md., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., yesterday introduced the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act. The legislation would authorize the President to enter into lend-lease agreements directly with Ukraine and provide military equipment necessary to protect vulnerable civilian populations from a Russian military invasion.
“The U.S. should be doing everything possible to assist our friends in Ukraine against Vladimir Putin’s shameless and illegal aggression,” Sen. Wicker said. “Expanding the United States’ ability to lend and lease critical equipment and capabilities would be an effective way to empower the Ukrainian people to fight and win against a strong Russian force. We need an overwhelming bipartisan vote and a presidential signature on this legislation without delay.”
“There's no question weakness is a provocation to authoritarian figures like Vladimir Putin, and the threat of sanctions or financial support for Ukraine will not be enough to deter an invasion,” said Sen. Cornyn. “This legislation would allow us to once again serve as the arsenal of democracy and provide Ukraine with lethal weapons against the Russian threat to its sovereignty.”
“American foreign policy is strongest when Congress and the White House are united in policy and purpose. At present, we stand together against Russian aggression towards Ukraine,” said Sen. Cardin. “Our bipartisan bill streamlines the tools available to the president as he works to bolster Ukraine’s defense and protect innocent civilians, in an effort to lessen the likelihood that Russia will use its troops against its neighbor.”
“On the heels of a bipartisan delegation I helped lead to Ukraine, it’s clear the U.S. must take decisive and urgent action to support our Ukrainian partners and deter a Russian incursion. This legislation shows there is bipartisan unity in Congress to provide President Biden with the tools needed to swiftly deliver critical defense capabilities to Ukraine and stand firm against the Kremlin,” said Sen. Shaheen. “This bill ensures bureaucratic hurdles won’t hinder the administration from acting quickly to provide Ukraine with the tools needed to protect civilians should Putin decide to invade. The Kremlin will pay a hefty price if they escalate this crisis, and the U.S. will put its money where its mouth is to help Ukraine defend itself. There is too much at stake; Congress must act swiftly, and most critically – work together – to get legislation across the finish line.”
As part of his Arms Export Control Act authority, the President can currently lend and lease defense articles to U.S. partners and allies when it is in the United States’ national security interest. However, bureaucratic barriers and other limitations make these authorities impractical for the current crisis facing Ukraine.
This enhanced lend-lease authority would be specifically tailored to removing obstacles to lending arms to Ukraine. It would not create a new program, but would instead streamline the President’s current authority to lend the defense articles necessary to defend civilian populations in Ukraine. In addition, this legislation would:
- Require the President to certify to the appropriate congressional committee that any military equipment provided under this authority is necessary to protect vulnerable civilian populations;
- Require the President or his designee to establish expedited delivery procedures for any military equipment loaned or leased to Ukraine to ensure timely delivery to Ukraine; and
- Categorize any cyberattack on major critical infrastructure originating from within Russia against Ukraine to be treated as an armed attack by Russia
- Remain in effect until Russia restores its troops’ presence on the Ukraine border to pre-March 2021 levels.
The legislation comes following Senator Wicker’s his visit to Kyiv with six other Senators to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday. Watch Senator Wicker’s latest remarks regarding Ukraine here. Read more about Senator Wicker’s visit to Ukraine here. Read Senator Wicker’s latest op-ed on Ukraine defense here.