Austin Doubles Down on Military Aid for Israel and Ukraine

by | Mar 19, 2024

Austin Doubles Down on Military Aid for Israel and Ukraine

by | Mar 19, 2024

240319 f ib260 5327y

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, address the news media at a press conference following the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, March 19, 2024.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin pledged that the US would continue to ship weapons to Ukraine and Israel. Washington has provided Kiev with over $100 billion in aid over the past two years. Additionally, after October 7, the US began providing a significant number of arms to Tel Aviv as Israeli forces indiscriminately used the bombs to destroy Gaza. 

During remarks to the press at the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, Secretary Austin explained that Washington had no plans to abandon support for Ukraine and hoped Congress would pass a $61 billion aid package for Kiev soon. 

“Ukraine’s survival is in danger, and America’s security is at risk, and they don’t have a day to waste and we don’t have a day to spare, either,” he said. “So I leave here today fully determined to keep US security assistance and ammunition flowing, and that’s a matter of survival and sovereignty for Ukraine and it’s a matter of honor and security for America.” 

After Russia invaded Ukraine two years ago, Western leaders pushed Ukrainian President Zelensky to forgo a diplomatic settlement to the conflict. President Biden led the charge, pledging the US would support Ukraine for as long as it takes. 

Two years into the war, the White House is struggling to make good on that promise. During the presser, Austin acknowledged that Ukrainians were currently losing territory and needed more ammunition. The White House has used multiple questionable budgetary tactics to stretch the funding appropriated to Ukraine by Congress. However, further funding is meeting a brick wall in the lower chamber. 

Even if House Speaker Mike Johnson relents and allows the body to pass the foreign aid bill – that also includes $14 billion in military aid for Israel – Western arms depots are stretched thin. Currently, Russia is able to produce three times the amount of artillery shells as the collective West. 

Despite the production challenges, Austin says the White House remains committed to arming Israel as well. “We acknowledged, from the very beginning, that Israel has a fundamental right to be able to defend itself. And — and so we’re going to continue to support them as — as they try to do that, and ensure that they have what they need to defend their people,” the Pentagon chief said. 

President Biden has come under increasing pressure from Democratic voters to end military funding to Tel Aviv over Israel’s brutal onslaught in Gaza. At least 31,000 people are dead, and now aid agencies are warning that famine is beginning. 

While top US officials had said that Israel needs to do more to protect civilians, the White House has also made clear the administration has no intention of ending arms shipments to Israel. In fact, the latest proposal calls for sending additional arms to Tel Aviv to incentivize Israel to commit fewer war crimes. 

About Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

Our Books

latest book lineup.

Related Articles