U.S. bill backs more defense spending for Europe, Ukraine: RFE/RL

A key U.S. congressional committee has backed a substantial increase in defense spending to reassure European allies jittery about Russian military maneuvers, RFE/RL reports.
Lawmakers on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee also voted April 28 to allocate $150 million to help train and equip Ukrainian government forces in their fight against Russia-backed separatists in the east of the country, according to RFE/RL.
But the bill appears to stop short of heeding Kyiv`s repeated requests for weaponry other than the defense equipment Washington has been providing to date.
At $610 billion, the legislation is one of the largest single annual budget measures considered by Congress, covering a sweeping range of U.S. defense policy. This year`s package authorizes more money for more advanced fighter jets, new navy ships, and cyberwarfare, as well as more mundane matters like service members` salaries and health-care expenses.
But the bill also reflects foreign policy priorities, and the alarm that many lawmakers and policy officials have voiced regarding Russia`s stepped-up military actions in Ukraine, Syria, and elsewhere figures notably in the legislation.
Lawmakers backed an administration proposal called the European Reassurance Initiative, а $3.4 billion effort to increase the U.S. military presence in Eastern Europe. The Pentagon is planning to increase the number of combat brigades rotating into Europe, as well as station heavy weaponry and equipment in some places.

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