White House frets over possible ‘lapse’ in Ukraine aid
US President Joe Biden’s administration has again sounded the alarm over the potentially devastating consequences if lawmakers fail to prevent a disruption to Washington’s massive military and economic aid to help Ukraine defeat Russian forces.
“As the Congress works through its various mechanisms and procedures, we cannot under any circumstances allow America’s support for Ukraine to be interrupted,” US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters on Wednesday in Washington. “A lapse in support for even a short period of time could make all the difference in the battlefield.”
Patel made his comments amid concern that disarray in Congress, where the US House speaker was ousted for the first time in history on Tuesday, could delay legislative approval of Biden’s request for an additional $24 billion in Ukraine aid. At least one leading candidate to replace McCarthy, Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), has publicly opposed more spending on aid to Kiev. Some Republicans reportedly revolted against McCarthy after hearing that the then-speaker had promised Biden that more Ukraine spending would be approved after the issue was left out of last week’s stopgap spending bill.
Biden administration officials have privately admitted that only weeks remain before a potential lapse in US funding for Ukraine, which would create serious problems for Kiev’s forces on the battlefield, CNN reported on Wednesday. Biden, who plans to make a speech about the importance of Ukraine aid, told reporters on Wednesday that he may find another way to keep the weaponry and money flowing to Kiev without getting legislation passed in Congress.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian leaders are reportedly “freaking out” over the potential loss of US funding. “For us, it is a disaster,” Ukrainian MP Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze told Politico on Wednesday. The Wall Street Journal reported that Kiev currently has enough money to last through October. Ukrainian MP Yaroslav Zheleznia complained that Kiev has become a hostage to Washington’s “internal politics.”
The Pentagon said on Tuesday that it has remaining approvals to send about $5.4 billion worth of military aid to Ukraine. Just $1.6 billion remains for replenishing US weapons stocks that were donated to Kiev. “We have enough funding authorities to meet Ukraine’s battlefield needs for just a little bit longer, but we need Congress to act to ensure there is no disruption in our support,” Pentagon spokesman Sabrina Singh told reporters.