The US Senate is expected to approve $40bn in fresh military, economic and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine on Thursday, as Russia is pressing an offensive in the Donbas region.

The vote is widely expected to pass after a week-long delay, despite opposition from a handful of self-described America First Republicans. Following Congressional approval, US president Joe Biden is expected to quickly sign the measure, freeing up vital assistance as the war enters its fourth month.

The $40bn package is more than the $33bn Biden requested three weeks ago, and includes increased spending on defence and humanitarian aid.

More than half of the funds will be earmarked for weapons, equipment and military financing for Ukraine, as well as for restoring US weapons stocks and support for European Command operations.

The vote was delayed after Republican senator Rand Paul introduced several procedural hurdles to signal his opposition. He had wanted to include an inspector general for the funds, and said he was concerned that the package would require additional deficit spending. Paul, a fiscally conservative lawmaker known for his non-interventionist views said last week “we cannot save Ukraine by dooming the US economy.” 

The US has provided billions in lethal assistance to Ukraine, including artillery and anti-tank systems that have played critical roles in helping to fend off Russian efforts to take Kyiv and other parts of the country.

The new assistance comes as US officials describe a grinding and slow offensive in Ukraine’s east that is shifting into a war of attrition. Biden administration officials are sceptical of the prospects for any imminent diplomatic solution. Thursday’s package is expected to last at least through September.

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