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20 Dec, 2023 08:31

US Senate shelves Ukraine aid talks for 2023

Republican lawmakers continue to demand a deal on border security before authorizing foreign spending
US Senate shelves Ukraine aid talks for 2023

The US Senate will not approve a major new foreign aid package this year, including around $60 billion for Ukraine, after failing to reach a deal on domestic border security, leading lawmakers have announced.

Republicans have insisted they will not approve the White House request to send billions of dollars to foreign nations unless the Democrats introduce significant immigration reforms at home.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had postponed the Senate’s Christmas break by a week in the hopes of hammering out an agreement. In a joint statement with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday, the two top senators expressed hope that a deal could be reached “early in the new year.”

The statement said senators and the administration of President Joe Biden will use the remainder of the year “to work in good faith toward finalizing” a potential deal.

Unlike the Senate, the Republican-majority House declined to shorten its recess to allow more time for additional talks. Speaker Mike Johnson has called on the White House to present a clear plan on how pouring more money into Ukraine would help it prevail in the conflict with Russia.

Biden has accused Republicans of holding the proposed foreign aid “hostage,” and by extension jeopardizing US national security. The National Security Council’s John Kirby reiterated during a briefing on Tuesday that the White House has “no magic pot of money” to tap into, and that existing aid for Ukraine was about to run out.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky addressed the issue during an end-of-year press conference on the same day, expressing belief that “the US will not betray us.”

“We have an agreement, and this agreement with the US will be fully implemented,” he insisted.

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Washington of initiating the Ukraine conflict with the 2014 armed coup in Kiev and using it for selfish gains as he attended a Defense Ministry meeting on Tuesday.

“They [the US government] were very worried about Russia getting closer with Europe,” Putin said, adding that Washington successfully created a rift “and now they are putting the financial burden on Europe too.”

According to US media, officials negotiating the border deal have agreed in principle to raise the threshold for migrants seeking to claim asylum in the US and to give the government more authority to expedite expulsions. The parties have conflicting positions on which groups of migrants should be kept in custody and which should be paroled.

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