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19 Feb, 2024 21:15

Biden brands US Republicans ‘shocking’

The president has blasted lawmakers for failing to approve more aid to Ukraine, even after the death of a Russian activist
Biden brands US Republicans ‘shocking’

US President Joe Biden has condemned Republican lawmakers for continuing to oppose sending more weapons and money to Ukraine, saying he can only hope the death of Russian political activist Alexey Navalny will help persuade them to act.

Biden has repeatedly scolded Republican members of Congress for failing to approve the approximately $60 billion in additional Ukraine aid that he has requested. US House lawmakers left Washington for a two-week vacation on Friday, having failed to pass an emergency spending bill that was approved by the Senate earlier in the week. The White House confirmed last month that it had run out of funding for Ukraine after burning through $113 billion in previously approved aid packages.

“Look, the way they’re walking away from the threat of Russia, the way they’re walking away from NATO, the way they’re walking away from meeting our obligations, it’s just shocking,” Biden said on Monday as he returned to the White House from his beach home in Delaware. “I mean, they’re wild. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Rising doubts over continued support from Kiev’s biggest Western benefactor come at a time when Ukrainian forces are suffering setbacks on the battlefield amid ammunition shortages. Russian forces liberated Avdeevka, a key Donbass stronghold, on Saturday. Biden reacted by blaming US Republicans for Kiev's loss of the city, which resulted in a chaotic retreat.

US media outlets have tried to spin Navalny’s death in a Siberian penal colony as a “rallying cry” to help Ukraine defeat Russian forces. A CNN reporter asked Biden on Monday whether “Navalny’s blood is on the hands of House Republicans.” The president replied, “I wouldn’t use that term. They’re making a big mistake not responding.”

Asked whether Navalny’s demise would help trigger more Republicans to support Ukraine aid, Biden said, “I hope so, but I’m not sure anything is going to change.”

The US president and other Western leaders have blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for Navalny’s death. Biden said on Monday that he was considering additional sanctions to punish Moscow. 

Media reports have suggested that Washington has few options for additional measures after previously imposing several rounds of unprecedented sanctions in response to the Ukraine conflict. Biden warned in 2021 of “devastating” consequences for Russia if Navalny were to die in prison.

Russia’s ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, described accusations over the activist’s passing as a “flow of bile.” The US reaction is an attempt to meddle in Russia’s internal affairs, he said on Saturday.