WASHINGTON, November 15. /TASS/. The House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the US Congress, passed the next year’s defense budget on Tuesday, which allocates some $4.6 billion for a set of measures intended to deter Russia in Europe.
According to explanatory notes for the National Defense Authorization Act, otherwise known as the 2018 defense budget, about $4.6 billion will be allocated to enhance the so-called European Deterrence Initiative, aimed at reassuring the US allies in Europe and boosting the US military capacities in Europe. About $100 million from this sum may be spend to increase defense capabilities of Baltic states.
Apart from that, the Congress permitted the US secretary of state and the secretary of defense to use $350 million to render military assistance to Ukraine, including supplies of defense weaponry and anti-tank systems. The legislation also authorizes other types of military assistance by the Pentagon, including training of Ukrainian servicemen and technical support for the Ukrainian armed forces.
However, the act imposes limitations on the use of these funds. Only a half of the overall sum will be available at first, with the rest allocated only after the Congress receives assurances that the Ukrainian government had carried out successful institutional reforms in the military sphere.
In addition, the House of Representatives approved allocating $58 million for measures to counteract alleged violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) by Russia. Russia has strongly denied all accusations and said it fully complied with all provisions of the treaty.
The bill’s authors also express concern about Russia’s growing influence in the Balkan area. In connection with that, the Congress is willing to request a Pentagon report on deliveries of Russian military equipment and technologies worth more than $1 million to western Balkan states since 2012.
The National Defense Authorization Act sets the overall defense budget at $700 billion. It is yet to be formally approved by the Senate. However, as both chambers of the US parliament have already agreed on the text, its adoption is unlikely to take long. Once adopted by Congress, the document will be submitted to the US president for signing.