Top US diplomat pledges to ‘sustain’ support for Kiev
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has tried to reassure Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky that Washington will continue to fund Kiev’s conflict with Russia, despite struggles to secure congressional approval for the latest aid package.
Along with White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Blinken met with Zelensky on Tuesday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Blinken started the talks by conveying US President Joe Biden’s “strong, enduring support for Ukraine.”
“We are determined to sustain our support for Ukraine and we’re working very closely with Congress in order to work to do that,” the top US diplomat said. “I know our European colleagues will do the same thing.”
However, Blinken made his pledge as Republican lawmakers continued to block congressional approval of Biden’s proposal to provide $61.4 billion in additional aid to Ukraine. The White House confirmed last week that Washington had run out of funding for Kiev after burning through $113 billion in previously approved spending plans. Biden tweaked his rhetoric on the crisis last month, saying his administration will support Ukraine “as long as we can,” rather than using his oft-repeated vow of “as long as it takes” to secure victory.
Washington is by far the largest sponsor of the Ukraine conflict, which some US politicians have referred to as a “proxy war” with Russia. Republican critics have argued that Biden lacks a strategy for victory in the former Soviet republic and is only prolonging the fighting by continuing to send weapons and money to Kiev.
Despite the partisan divide in Washington, Zelensky thanked the Biden administration and US lawmakers for their “bipartisan support.” He added, “You mentioned about Congress. We really count on your support, continuing your huge support.”
Sullivan insisted that the US and its allies are determined to ensure that “Russia falls and Ukraine wins.” The latest EU aid package for Ukraine, valued at €50 billion ($54.6 billion), also has stalled after being vetoed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in December.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba warned in an ABC News interview on Monday that “time is running out” for US legislators to approve more aid to Kiev. He reiterated a claim that Washington must support Ukraine to avoid having to deploy its own troops in a direct conflict with Russia.