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18 Jan, 2024 06:11

US House speaker challenges Biden on Ukraine aid

The White House has warned lawmakers about the “urgency” of military aid to Kiev and the “consequences of inaction”
US House speaker challenges Biden on Ukraine aid

House Speaker Mike Johnson announced at a press briefing on Wednesday that he will persist in his push to secure the US border over providing aid to Ukraine. President Joe Biden had summoned Johnson and other congressional leaders to the White House in a bid to break a month-long stalemate.

Republicans had previously blocked Biden’s more than $100 billion budget request – of which around $61 billion is to go towards aid to Kiev – demanding stricter border controls for their support. Johnson suggested that a deal with House Republicans over border control may not be enough, demanding concrete answers of what the United States’ long-term plans in Ukraine are.

“What is the endgame and the strategy in Ukraine? How will we have accountability for the funds?” Johnson told reporters ahead of the meeting, adding, “we need to know that Ukraine will not be another Afghanistan.”

A bipartisan group of lawmakers have reportedly made progress in negotiations, but the talks have hit a snag.

“We have to secure our own border before we talk about doing anything else,” Johnson said, insisting that “the border is a catastrophe, and it has to be addressed. You’re going to see House Republicans standing and fighting on that hill because it’s important for the country.”

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer insisted that “Ukraine is already suffering from a lack of armaments,” and without timely aid, “the whole thing could turn around and be irretrievable.”

Ahead of the meeting, he said that “if Ukraine folds, we’re going to be suffering the consequences not for months, but for years to come.”

In a statement published by the White House following the meeting, Biden reiterated his call to Congress to pass his supplemental bill, stating that its “continued failure to act endangers the United States’ national security, the NATO Alliance, and the rest of the free world.”

Moscow has held firm in its position that NATO expansion towards Russian borders was the core cause of the Ukraine conflict, following Kiev’s announced intention to join the military bloc. The deliveries of Western armaments to Ukraine, according to Moscow, make the US and EU parties to the conflict, and the conflict itself a de facto proxy war.

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