Not funding Ukraine ‘absolutely crazy’ – Biden
The refusal of congressional Republicans to provide more aid to Ukraine to fight Russia – unless the Democrats agree to address the issue of US-Mexico border security – is “just wrong,” US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday, after a chaotic briefing that his senior officials gave the Senate.
The upper chamber is set to vote Wednesday on a $110.5 billion emergency spending bill, which the Biden administration has requested for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. With 60 votes required to pass, the GOP’s 49-strong minority is expected to sink the measure.
The speaker of the Republican-controlled House, Mike Johnson, has said that GOP legislators would only greenlight more money for Kiev if US border security is provided for and the White House is able to present a clear plan for tackling the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“The failure to support Ukraine is just absolutely crazy,” Biden told reporters. “It’s against US interests.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Republican members of “hijacking” the meeting, which took place behind closed doors, and using it for grandstanding. Some senators, including Mitt Romney, walked out early. The lawmaker from Utah said Biden’s people “were saying things we’ve all known” from papers and were not “willing to actually discuss what it takes to get a deal done.”
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky was scheduled to make a personal appeal to the senators via videolink, but bailed at the last moment. Ukrainian MP Aleksandra Ustinova suggested in a social media post that the seemingly insurmountable Republican resistance was the reason why Zelensky was a no-show.
While ‘Ukraine fatigue’ has set in among some congressional Republicans, many of the party’s known hawks agree with Biden’s claim that sending money to Ukraine serves American interests. Senator Lindsey Graham, a vocal champion of Kiev’s cause, predicted that the White House would “get a robust Republican vote” if it provided real border security, as demanded by the GOP.
The administration has pledged American support for Ukraine “for as long as it takes” to defeat Russia. Ahead of the Senate gathering, top officials reported that previously appropriated funds have virtually run out.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Monday that lawmakers have a choice between supporting “the fight for freedom in Ukraine” and letting Russian President Vladimir Putin “prevail.”
Andrey Yermak, Zelensky’s chief of staff, said on Tuesday that there was a “very high possibility” that his country would lose without American assistance. He was addressing the US Institute of Peace, a Washington-based think tank.
Moscow perceives the Ukraine conflict as part of a US proxy war against Russia, in which the Ukrainians serve as “cannon fodder.”