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6 Dec, 2023 10:29

‘High risk’ of defeat – Zelensky’s top aide

Andrey Yermak has called for more funds for Kiev as Congress remains at loggerheads
‘High risk’ of defeat – Zelensky’s top aide

President Vladimir Zelensky’s chief of staff has admitted that there is a “big risk” that Ukraine will lose its conflict with Russia unless the US Congress approves more funding to support Kiev. Andrey Yermak was among a number of Ukrainian officials who “swarmed Washington” ahead of a Senate vote on a White House request for over $100 billion in aid for Kiev, Israel and Taiwan, according to the New York Times.

Republican lawmakers are adamant that they will not approve the spending, unless the Democrats compromise on the issue of southern border security. President Joe Biden called their resistance “crazy” and “totally wrong.”

Yermak made the case for more funding during an appearance at the US Institute of Peace, a Washington-based government-funded think tank. He claimed that his country had inflicted casualties on Russian forces at a ratio of 1:10, and was capable of defeating it on the battlefield in the long run. However, he admitted that even a delay in the provision of American aid could pose a challenge for Kiev. Such an outcome would “give the big risk that we can be in [the] same position [where] we are located now,” he said, speaking in English, presumably meaning a lack of progress in retaking land from Russia. “Of course, it make with very high possibility impossible to continue liberate and give the big risk to lose this war,” Yermak added.

Zelensky’s chief-of-staff was ostensibly promoting the so-called “peace formula” that was first floated by the Ukrainian president last year. It would involve full control over pre-2014 territories for Kiev, while Russia would pay war reparations and face a tribunal. Moscow has dismissed these demands as detached from reality.

Yermak claimed that helping Ukraine to beat Russia was of strategic importance to the US and its allies. Zelensky himself was scheduled to make a virtual appearance at a closed Senate hearing, during which senior White House officials gave lawmakers a briefing on the importance of appropriations. He canceled at the last moment.

The Republican-controlled House has previously declined to include Ukraine aid in stopgap spending bills on two previous occasions, which kept the US government from shutting down this year.

Speaker Mike Johnson has demanded a “full accounting of how prior US military and humanitarian aid” to Ukraine was spent and a plan for “an accelerated path to victory” from the White House. Lawmakers opposed to bankrolling Ukraine have cited concerns over corruption in Kiev and the cost to American taxpayers as key objections.