Biden reaffirms support for Ukraine amidst political turmoil in Washington, as military aid hangs in the balance.
Washington, DC – October 4, 2023: President Joe Biden’s diplomatic efforts were in full swing as he reached out to key allies on October 3, 2023, in a bid to reassure them of the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine. This reassurance comes at a critical juncture, with renewed political chaos in Washington placing fresh military aid for Ukraine in jeopardy.
The situation escalated after new assistance for Ukraine was dropped from a deal in the US Congress, a move made to prevent a government shutdown. This decision faced opposition from hardline Republicans, adding a layer of complexity to an already tense situation.
Despite these challenges, President Biden remained committed to providing essential support to Ukraine. However, shortly after his call with key Western leaders, further disarray unfolded when the same hardline Republicans ousted Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in a rebellion. This development threw the prospects of passing a new bill for Ukraine into uncertainty.
In response to the ongoing turmoil, President Biden urged a swift election of a new speaker to address the pressing issues facing the nation. The White House emphasized the urgency of the situation, highlighting the need for continued assistance to Ukraine.
“President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes as it defends its sovereignty and territorial integrity, with fellow leaders echoing their commitments,” the White House stated.
However, the White House also made it clear that time was of the essence. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby cautioned that if fresh aid was not approved soon, the existing funds allocated to help Ukraine in its struggle against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion would only last “a couple of months.” Kirby emphasized that time was not on their side and that a lapse in funding could embolden Putin to believe he could outlast the United States.
The Pentagon, while expressing its commitment to meeting Ukraine’s military needs, also acknowledged that this assistance had limits, and it could only last “just a little bit longer” with the already authorized resources.
In the aftermath of these developments, US allies rallied behind President Biden’s commitment to Ukraine. The United States, as the largest supplier of aid to Ukraine, plays a pivotal role in supporting the nation. To date, Washington has pledged over $43 billion in military assistance to Kyiv since the onset of Moscow’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. The US Congress has approved a total of $113 billion, including humanitarian aid, underscoring the significance of this partnership.
Leaders from various countries voiced their support for Ukraine and gratitude to President Biden for his leadership. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s office emphasized Biden’s commitment to continuing American support for Ukraine in the aftermath of the government shutdown drama. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed his appreciation for Biden’s leadership and affirmed that Western support would continue for “as long as it takes.”
NATO leader Jens Stoltenberg underscored the importance of continued support for Ukraine and highlighted that the alliance’s members were equitably sharing the burden.
The political upheaval in Washington has not gone unnoticed by Russia, which sees an opportunity to capitalize on Western war fatigue amid the uncertainty surrounding US assistance to Ukraine. President Biden has consistently emphasized the global role of the United States, asserting that “we are the indispensable nation in the world — let’s act like it.”
However, the ongoing political turmoil in the United States has put Ukraine’s aid package in a precarious position, with just over a year until the next elections. The far-right Republicans who ousted Speaker McCarthy have made halting aid to Ukraine a top priority, further complicating the situation.
This chaos follows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Washington in September, where he appealed for continued backing. Opposition to US support for Ukraine among hardline Republicans has been growing, despite the fact that Russia’s invasion has continued for over a year and a half. Public sentiment has also shifted, with a recent poll indicating that 41 percent of respondents believe the United States is doing too much to support Ukraine, a notable increase from earlier polls.
Doubts about Western unity have intensified following Slovakia’s election of populist leader Robert Fico, who has vowed to end military support for Ukraine.
As the situation continues to evolve, the fate of US support for Ukraine hangs in the balance, with President Biden working tirelessly to ensure that Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity remain a top priority in US foreign policy.