Biden signs US Lend-Lease Act for Ukraine: What does this mean?

Thanks to this act, the US will be able to provide Ukraine with military equipment, including 25,000 rounds of 155mm artillery and field equipment, among other things.

 US President Joe Biden clasps hands with Vice President Kamala Harris as Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Representative Victoria Spartz (R-IN) wait for Biden to into law S. 3522, the "Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022" at the White House in Washington, US, May 9, 2022.  (photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)
US President Joe Biden clasps hands with Vice President Kamala Harris as Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Representative Victoria Spartz (R-IN) wait for Biden to into law S. 3522, the "Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022" at the White House in Washington, US, May 9, 2022.
(photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)

US President Joe Biden on Sunday signed a new act called the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 designed to help give the beseiged country the funds and tools needed to help fight off the Russian invasion.

"I’m signing a bill that provides another important tool in our efforts to support the government of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in their fight to defend their country and their democracy against [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s brutal war. And it is brutal," Biden said at the singing

"Every day, Ukrainians pay with their lives, and they fight along — and the atrocities that the Russians are engaging in are just beyond the pale. And the cost of the fight is not cheap, but caving to aggression is even more costly. That’s why we’re staying in this."

The bill signaled a historic moment for Ukraine, as it will see the Eastern European nation provided with much-needed funds to help it in its ongoing struggle. 

The Ukrainian military has been putting up a valiant fight against Russian forces since the invasion began in late February in a struggle that has defied the expectations of most experts worldwide, who had previously expected the far larger and better-equipped Russian army to quickly take the capital Kyiv.

A view shows buildings destroyed by the shelling, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Borodianka, Kyiv region, Ukraine, May 2, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/ZOHRA BENSEMRA)A view shows buildings destroyed by the shelling, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Borodianka, Kyiv region, Ukraine, May 2, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/ZOHRA BENSEMRA)

But despite this, Ukraine's stockpile of weaponry has been fading fast, especially since so much of it consisted of Soviet-era weapons.

"Stocks of Soviet-era weapons dwindle, but Russian aggression does not," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter last week. "This is why Ukraine shifts to modern equipment. Training is required, but we are fast learners. In fact, we learn to operate modern weapons faster than it takes some governments to decide upon providing them."

How much Ukraine has lost is unknown, though it is known to be significant. It is for this reason that for months, Ukraine has been pleading with the US and the European Union for military aid. 

That is, in part, what makes this newly signed act so important.

Thanks to this act, the US will be able to provide Ukraine with military equipment, which includes 25,000 rounds of 155mm artillery and field equipment, electronic jamming equipment and counter-artillery radars, among other things. 

But this is also historic for following in the footsteps of an older, more famous Lend-Lease Act.

Signed by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941, that Lend-Lease Act was made to allow the US to provide military aid in the form of oil, food, military equipment and more to the allies in World War II, specifically the UK, China and the Soviet Union. It was a major factor in helping the Allies defeat the Nazis, in part by helping to shore up the allies with military equipment and vehicles and bringing in much-needed supplies.

This was especially true for the Soviet Union, with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and later premier Nikita Khruschev both having noted that Lend-Lease was essential in the defeat of the Nazis.

Now, this same type of act is being brought out again to help Ukraine against Russia - and this is no coincidence. In fact, both the US and Ukraine have noted the symbolism and timing of this new Lend-Lease Act.

"In 1941, [UK prime minister Winston] Churchill convinced the US of the need for Lend-Lease to defeat Nazism," Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov tweeted. "In 2022, [Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky] did the same to defeat Ruscism."

Ukraine's Defense Ministry also tweeted a side-by-side image of Biden signing the bill with Roosevelt doing the same.

"Let's do this together once again, President Biden!" the ministry tweeted.

Further adding to the symbolism was the fact that the bill was signed on Sunday, May 9, which is celebrated in Russia and much of the former Soviet Union as Victory Day, commemorating the Soviet victory over the Nazis.

"While President Putin and the Russian people celebrated Victory Day today, we are seeing Russian forces commit war crimes and atrocities in Ukraine as they engage in a brutal war that is causing so much suffering and needless destruction," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at the signing.

"This day is supposed to be about celebrating peace and unity in Europe and the defeat of Nazis in World War Two.  That is what is celebrated every year in Russia as well.  And instead, Putin is perverting history, changing history to try — or attempting to change it, I should say — to justify his unprovoked and unjustified war, which has brought catastrophic loss of life and immense human suffering."

"We’re continuing to do what we can to provide support for Ukraine at this pivotal moment — flowing security, economic and humanitarian assistance," she said.

Biden brought attention to another anniversary: That of the European Union.

"On May 9, 1950, just years after the end of World War Two, Europe began to work to strengthen the bonds of unity among the nations, particularly the economic unity and the shared economic prosperity," the president noted.

"The idea ultimately grew into the — what is now a 27-nation European Union — an economic powerhouse and a global force for peace and close partners of all — on all the issues we face," he said.

"And with Putin’s war once more bringing wanton destruction into Europe – and... to reaffirm the enduring commitment to the future grounded in democracy, human rights, and peaceful resolution to disagreements, I’m now going to sign this bill."

This is not the end for Lend-Lease for Ukraine, however, as it is likely more funds will be allocated to help them again soon. 

This is notable, as it shows that the US is making an effort to aid Ukraine. It has evidently also not gone unnoticed by the American public, with a recent Pew poll showing that the number of adults who feel the US isn't providing Ukraine with enough support has declined since March.

Michael Starr and Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.