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20 Oct, 2022 12:27

Top Ukrainian official ‘shocked’ by US aid comments

The head of Vladimir Zelensky’s party in parliament reacts to the prospect of a support cut if Republicans win the midterm elections
Top Ukrainian official ‘shocked’ by US aid comments

A claim by House minority leader Kevin McCarthy that Republicans could curb US support for Ukraine if they win the midterm elections on November 8 has caught Kiev by surprise, David Arakhamia, who heads President Vladimir Zelensky’s party in parliament, has revealed.

Earlier this week, McCarthy said that while still being “important,” helping Ukraine in its conflict against Russia couldn’t remain the dominating issue on the agenda in Washington anymore. “I think people are gonna be sitting in a recession and they’re not going to write a blank check to Ukraine. They just won’t do it,” he told Punchbowl News. According to a report by Axios on Wednesday, such a sentiment is shared by many other GOP lawmakers.

“We were shocked to hear these comments of Mr McCarthy, honestly,” Arakhamia said in an interview with the Financial Times on Wednesday.

According to Arakhamia, the congressman’s comments contradicted what was said during their face-to-face meeting, which took place in Washington in June.

“Just a few weeks ago, our delegation visited the US and had a meeting with Mr McCarthy. We were assured that bipartisan support of Ukraine in its war with Russia will remain a top priority even if they win in the elections,” the Kiev official insisted.

Arakhamia’s words also appeared to contradict a report by Politico on Wednesday, which cited unnamed White House aides, claiming the Ukrainian government understood that things could change if the Republicans take control of at least one chamber of Congress after the midterms.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko told the Financial Times that the country was still counting on “continued bipartisan support” from the US.

When asked about McCarthy's remarks, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre gave assurances that the Biden administration would “continue to work with Congress, as we have these past several months, on these efforts and support Ukraine as long as it takes.”

The US has been Ukraine’s strongest backer since the outbreak of its conflict with Russia in late February, providing Kiev with weapons, funds and intelligence. Washington has already supplied $16.8 billion in military aid to Zelensky’s government, including sophisticated hardware such as HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, M777 howitzers, and combat drones.

Moscow has criticized those deliveries, saying they only prolong the fighting and increase the risk of a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO.