Senate expected to vote on $40 billion in aid for Ukraine

Russia At War

(NewsNation) — The Senate is expected to vote this week on a bill that provides $40 billion in military aid to Ukraine, a substantial infusion of support for the region.

The measure includes $6 billion to bolster Ukraine’s intelligence capabilities and equipment, as well as training for its forces, plus $4 billion in financing to help Ukraine and NATO allies build up their militaries.

The latest round of assistance would push U.S. support to Ukraine beyond $50 billion, which has raised concerns from some conservative Republicans in the party’s isolationist wing wary of the price of overseas spending.

The measure stalled earlier in the Senate over the objection of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) but Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is determined to see that it passes in the coming week.

McConnell said he told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that there is vast bipartisan support in Congress for helping Ukraine.

“This is not a charity we’re involved in here,” McConnell said. “This is to prevent this group of thugs from beginning a march through Europe.”

McConnell could not say whether the latest aid package would be the last before the November elections. The spending on Ukraine has been a simmering campaign issue for some Republican candidates.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has already pushed the aid package through the House with bipartisan votes.

Sweden announces NATO bid

Sweden on Monday formally announced its intent on joining neighboring Finland in seeking NATO membership, ending more than two centuries of military nonalignment in a historic shift prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that Finland and Sweden would be “important additions” to the alliance.

Speaking to reporters from Stockholm on Sunday, McConnell said that Finland and Sweden, unlike some members of the Western alliance, would likely be in a position to pay their NATO obligations and would offer significant military capabilities.

”I think the United States ought to be first in line to ratify the treaty for both these countries to join,” he said.

The expansion of the military defense organization was one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s primary justifications for invading Ukraine in the first place.

“The Russian leadership thought they could bully Ukraine and deny them and other countries self-determination,” said Ulk Kristersson, the Swedish ppposition leader. “They thought they could scare Sweden and Finland and drive a wedge between us and our neighbors and allies. They were wrong.”

But NATO-member Turkey is “not favorable” toward those two additions, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday, complicating the move to bolster the alliance as a deterrent to Russia.

Putin downplayed the announcement in an address to a military alliance of former Soviet countries, giving a warning at the same time.

“The expansion of military infrastructure over that territory will obviously call for our response,” Putin said. “And we will determine what that response is based on the threats created.”

Experts told NewsNation, especially with its history as a neutral country, Sweden joining NATO is an unprecedented display of the threat Russia poses to European security.

“What we’ve seen here is it a … tectonic shift in European security,” said Max Bergmann, Europe director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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