President Joe Biden will sign legislation allowing the administration to lend or lease weapons to Ukraine on Monday, which coincides with Russia's annual military celebration.
The White House announced Friday that Biden will sign the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act on May 9 after it passed in the House by a 417-10 vote late last month and passed in the Senate before that. Lawmakers in both parties applauded the bill’s passage, which is a revival of a World War II-era program that helped supply allies in the fight against Nazi Germany.
The United States has already provided slightly below $4 billion in military assistance already, and Biden has urged Congress to pass a new $33 billion spending bill, which would include more than $20 billion for weapons, ammunition, and other military assistance.
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Russia's Victory Day commemorates the country's role in defeating Nazi Germany, and there are concerns that Russia may increase its military operations in Ukraine in order to ensure they have a victory ahead of the celebratory day.
Biden will participate in a call Sunday with G-7 leaders, and the White House said it wasn’t an accident that they’re set to speak before the Russian holiday, which includes a military parade and a speech by President Vladimir Putin.
"I think it should not be lost the significance, on anyone, the significance of when the timeline, of when this G-7 meeting is happening, which is the day before Russia's Victory Day, which President Putin has certainly projected his desire to mark that day as a day where he is victorious over Ukraine. Of course, he is not," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday.
"Having this meeting and conversation on Sunday is an opportunity to not only show how unified the West is in confronting the aggression and the invasion by President Putin but also to show that unity requires work, requires effort, requires blood, sweat, and tears sometimes," she added.
Ukraine's defense agency warned that it had intelligence Russia was planning a military parade in the besieged town of Mariupol, one of the hardest-hit cities, with fighting that has turned a once-thriving city to rubble, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN, “I can't tell on the behalf of the military if there are any plans."
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Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday that the department is unable to determine whether Russia’s efforts are directly tied to the celebration.
"I can't say that looking at the — looking at what we can see that we can say definitively that there's a change in behavior or aggressive or momentum based on the coming day of May 9th. And what they plan to do or say on Victory Day, that's really up to them. I don’t think we have a perfect sense," he said. "But I can't sit here honestly and tell you that we — that we're seeing a correlation between the looming deadline of the 9th and the way they're behaving in the Donbas."
He declined to comment about the passage of the Lend-Lease Act on Friday.