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7 Dec, 2023 22:45

White House refuses to guarantee Ukraine aid

The US Congress has yet to approve the billions in additional military and financial aid Kiev has requested
White House refuses to guarantee Ukraine aid

The Ukrainian government can’t expect additional funding from the US until it has been approved in Congress, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby warned at a White House press briefing on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the Senate failed to advance the $111 billion spending bill that would have allocated over $60 billion in aid to Kiev, even after President Joe Biden argued that this would undermine US leadership and prestige.

“We’re not in a position to make that promise to Ukraine, given where things are on the Hill,” Kirby said, answering a reporter who had asked whether the White House could offer any assurances that additional funding was coming Kiev’s way.

The US Congress has approved over $120 billion worth of aid to Kiev since the conflict with Russia escalated in February 2022. This included cash payments to keep the Ukrainian government going, as well as more than $44 billion worth of weapons, ammunition and equipment for Kiev’s military from the Pentagon’s stockpiles.

Biden asked for over $60 billion in additional funding in mid-October, as House Republicans fought to elect a new speaker. The White House chose to bundle that request with aid to Israel, Taiwan and the US-Mexico border. That appears to have been a mistake, however, as Republicans insisted on addressing the fact that over six million people had crossed into the US illegally since Biden took office in 2021.

Democrats called the Republican holdouts “hard right” and “extreme,” while Biden made an impassioned plea on Wednesday to not “kneecap Ukraine” amid the ongoing conflict. Biden even warned that US troops might end up fighting Russian troops on NATO territory in the event that Kiev capitulates, prompting a strong rebuke from the Kremlin.

Aside from partisan quarrelling among legislators over the allocation of funding, the Department of Defense has argued that it is running out of weaponry to pass along.

“The biggest problem that we are running up against is we don’t have enough money to backfill our own stocks, which means we don’t have enough to continue to supply Ukraine with what it needs,” the Pentagon’s deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters on Thursday. “Because it is our weapons, our capabilities, our systems being pulled off our shelves, and being shipped over to Ukraine, and if we can’t backfill that’s going to also impact our own readiness.”

Earlier in the week, the Washington Post reported on the failure of Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive, revealing that Kiev had thrown out the plan wargamed by US and British generals after only a few days of fighting in June wiped out much of its Western-supplied equipment.