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Trump Signs $700 Billion Military Budget Into Law, Urges Congress To Fund It


U.S. President Donald Trump (file photo)

U.S. President Donald Trump has signed into law a $700 billion defense-policy bill that calls for $4.8 billion in spending for U.S. military efforts in Europe, more funding for Ukraine, and for a new ground-launched cruise missile.

The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which sets policy guidance for the Defense Department and related agencies, must still be funded by Congress, which is deep in negotiations over a massive tax-overhaul package.

"Now Congress must finish the job by eliminating the defense sequester and passing a clean appropriations bill. I think it's going to happen. We need our military," Trump said at a White House signing ceremony on December 12.

The defense legislation includes billions in funding for the European Deterrence Initiative, an effort begun under Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, to bolster the defenses of U.S. European allies, nervous about Russia's increasing military activity.

U.S. and NATO allies have deployed small ground units to the three Baltic countries, as well as Poland, in what is seen as a modest, but highly symbolic, presence of Western troops on the borders with Russia.

U.S. commanders have also deployed an armored combat brigade to Eastern Europe.

The defense bill allocates about $350 million in security assistance to Ukraine, including authorization for lethal defensive weaponry, something Kyiv has been asking for for years, in its fight against Russia-backed fighters in eastern Ukraine.

The measure also provides for the treatment of wounded Ukrainian soldiers in U.S. military medical facilities.

Republican lawmakers, angered by U.S. allegations that Russia has deployed a new missile in violation of a key Cold War treaty, also included authorization for developing a new ground-launched cruise missile.

Russia has warned that if the United States goes ahead with the missile, it would signal the complete demise of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty.

Last week, the State Department said the administration was looking at "options for conventional, ground-launched, intermediate-range missile systems" and other measures in response to Russia's alleged violation of the treaty.

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    Mike Eckel

    Mike Eckel is a senior correspondent in Prague, where he reports on developments in Russia, Ukraine, and around the former Soviet Union, as well as news involving cybercrime and money laundering. Before joining RFE/RL in 2015, he worked for the Associated Press in Moscow. He has also reported and edited for The Christian Science Monitor, Al Jazeera America, Voice of America, and the Vladivostok News.