Joe Biden signs 95 billion dollar war aid measure for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan

US President Joe Biden signed into law on Wednesday a 95 billion dollar (£76.4 billion) war aid measure that includes assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, and that also has a provision that would force social media site TikTok to be sold or be banned in the U.S.

The announcement marks the end of a long, painful battle with Republicans in Congress over urgently needed assistance for Ukraine.

“We rose to the moment, we came together and we got it done,” Mr Biden said at a White House event to announce the signing. “Now we need to move fast, and we are.”

But significant damage has been done to the Biden administration’s effort to help Ukraine repel Russia’s brutal invasion during the funding impasse that dates back to August, when the Democratic president made his first emergency spending request for Ukraine aid.

Even with a burst of new weapons and ammunition, it is unlikely Ukraine will immediately recover after months of setbacks.

Mr Biden also signed an initial aid package of military assistance and said shipment would begin in the “next few hours”, the first tranche from about 61 billion dollars (£50 billion) allocated for Ukraine, according to US officials.

It is expected to include air defence capabilities, artillery rounds, armoured vehicles and other weapons to shore up Ukrainian forces, who have seen morale sink as Russian President Vladimir Putin has racked up win after win.

But longer term, it remains uncertain if Ukraine, after months of losses in Eastern Ukraine and sustaining massive damage to its infrastructure, can make enough progress to sustain American political support before burning through the latest influx of money.

“It’s not going in the Ukrainians’ favour in the Donbas, certainly not elsewhere in the country,” said White House national security spokesman John Kirby, referring to the eastern industrial heartland where Ukraine has suffered setbacks.

“Mr Putin thinks he can play for time. So we’ve got to try to make up some of that time.”

Tucked into the measure is a provision that gives TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance, nine months to sell it or face a nationwide prohibition in the United States.

The president can grant a one-time extension of 90 days, bringing the timeline to sell to one year, if he certifies that there is a path to divestiture and “significant progress” toward executing it.

The administration and a bipartisan group of lawmakers have called the social media site a growing national security concern.

TikTok said will make a legal challenge against what it called an “unconstitutional” effort by Congress.

“We believe the facts and the law are clearly on our side, and we will ultimately prevail,” the company said in a statement. “The fact is, we have invested billions of dollars to keep US data safe and our platform free from outside influence and manipulation.

“This ban would devastate seven million businesses and silence 170 million Americans.”

Mr Biden underscored that the Bill also includes a surge of humanitarian relief for Palestinians in Gaza, suffering as the Israel-Hamas war continues.

Mr Biden said Israel must ensure the humanitarian aid for Palestinians in the Bill reaches Gaza “without delay.”

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