Russia hawks in Congress just escalated already soaring tensions along the Ukraine-Russia border, on Wednesday passing a bill which boosts "lethal assistance" in the form of additional military hardware as well as training for Ukrainian troops.
The vote in the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee was unanimous in support of authorization of $300 million in annual military aid to Ukraine. "The committee passed the Ukraine Security Partnership Act sponsored by a bipartisan group of senators including Democrat Bob Menendez and Republican Jim Risch," according to The National.
"The bill authorizes up to $300m per year of foreign military financing to Ukraine, subject to certifications, including the authority to provide it with lethal military assistance and $4m per year to train its military officers," the report notes.
Specifically Menendez invoked what he described as "the massive Russian troop build-up along the eastern border and aggression in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov" in a phone call with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba just ahead of the vote.
Likely the reference to the maritime "aggression" is related to this week's expanded Russian naval and aerial drills off the southern coast of Crimea, as well as the recent notification that it would close the Kerch Strait to all foreign military vessels for six months.
Above: "Su-34 fighter jets are seen at the Russian military's Morozovsk airbase, about 100 miles east of the Ukrainian border in southern Russia, in a satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies that it said was taken in April 2021, amid a Russian military buildup in the region."
Below: "A satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows tanks and other military equipment at the Russian military's Pogorovo training area, near Voronezh, Russia on April 10, 2021."
Advocates of the new legislation argue that it will "help ensure that Ukraine can defend itself over time - and demonstrate to Russia that our nation continues to enjoy overwhelming bipartisan support from Washington."
The bill will next make its way to the Senate floor for a full vote and will likely pass, given the current climate of bipartisan condemnation of Russia's troop build-up near Ukraine, which the Kremlin asserts is actually in response to NATO attempts at sowing 'destabilization'.