Is US funding for Ukraine under threat? | Russia-Ukraine war News


As campaigning for subsequent yr’s United States presidential election heats up, Ukraine has emerged as a central theme.

President Joe Biden is at present scrambling to muster help for a new support package deal for the war-torn nation, going through hardening scepticism from Republicans in a deeply divided Congress.

His problem simply acquired more durable, with hardline Republicans pushing by means of a vote that on Tuesday led to the ouster of the get together’s personal Home of Representatives speaker, Joe McCarthy.

So what does this presage for Ukraine? Is the US, the nation’s staunchest ally so far, about to scale down its beneficiant support packages? And, given its function in rallying help throughout the West, will others waver?

The place does the US Congress stand on Ukraine?

Latest developments, which noticed Congress ditch provisions for additional funding to avert a authorities shutdown, despatched shock waves throughout the Atlantic. Biden is now urgent members of Congress to again a separate deal for Ukraine funding. He was counting on help from McCarthy, who was nonetheless faraway from workplace on Tuesday.

Previous to his dramatic departure, McCarthy had already raised members’ considerations about accountability concerning funds despatched to Kyiv. With a few of his potential successors strongly in favour of constant funding and others strongly opposed, who succeeds him might affect the circulate of US support to Ukraine – and doubtlessly the route of the struggle that began with Russia’s full-fledged invasion of its japanese neighbour in February 2022.

Within the midst of the head-spinning drama, Biden had advised Congress on October 1 that the “overwhelming majority” of each events within the Senate and Congress backed Ukraine of their struggle in opposition to Russia’s “brutal aggression”.

Nevertheless, whereas senators from each events have proven unity on the topic, with dozens attending a gathering with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy throughout his go to to Washington in September, the Home is extra polarised. Republicans management the chamber by a slim 221-212 majority.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (C), accompanied by US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (2nd R) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (L), arrives to meet with US Senators in the Old Senate Chamber, at the US Capitol in Washington
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (C), accompanied by US Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer (2nd R) and Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell (L), arrives to fulfill with US Senators within the Outdated Senate Chamber, on the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on September 21, 2023 [Pedro Ugarte/AFP]

How does Elon Musk match into this equation?

The battle was thrown into sharp concentrate on Monday, October 2, when billionaire Elon Musk lashed out at Kyiv on his X social media platform (previously Twitter), posting a meme that includes Zelenskyy with the caption: “When it’s been 5 minutes and also you haven’t requested for a billion {dollars} in support”.

Ukraine’s parliament hit again on its official X account, posting a meme of Musk with the phrases: “When it’s been 5 minutes and also you haven’t unfold Russian propaganda”.

Final month, Russian president Vladimir Putin hailed Musk as an “excellent particular person” after revelations that the entrepreneur had stymied a Ukrainian assault on Russian-occupied Crimea final yr, issuing orders that his Starlink satellite tv for pc communications be turned off. Musk had allegedly feared Moscow would retaliate with nuclear weapons.

How a lot support has the US given to Ukraine?

The US has to date been a significant backer of Kyiv, offering over $113bn in army, humanitarian and financial support. Navy spending, which accounts for greater than half of US support, pays for the drones, tanks and missiles essential to the continuing Ukrainian counteroffensive. Humanitarian help gives for medical provides and necessities like meals and protected ingesting water for the displaced inhabitants. INTERACTIVE - WEAPONS_UKRAINE_US_SEP25_2023-1695649376

Is that an excessive amount of or too little?

Republican opponents of support argue that the cash must be spent on home considerations, resembling border safety, legislation and order, and reduction for climate-related pure disasters hitting the nation with rising frequency. Help to Ukraine is a substantial fraction of the $773bn defence finances request for 2023. It’s way over the $25bn slated for border safety this yr — a key bugbear for conservatives.

Division of Protection (DoD) Comptroller Michael McCord final month tried to carry McCarthy onside, explaining that the Pentagon had already scaled down help. In a letter to the speaker, dated September 29, he highlighted the influence of overseas safety help on jobs and manufacturing in congressional districts, mentioning services in Tuscon, Arizona and Camden, Arkansas.

Cash is operating low. As McCord identified, the DoD has solely $1.6bn left to replenish army shares flowing to Ukraine and a mere $5.4bn value of Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA). The Ukraine Safety Help Initiative (USAI) has now been exhausted.

However, because the presidential marketing campaign intensifies, such pleas are more likely to go unheard. Navy support is just not thought to be a profitable marketing campaign technique. Hardline Republicans like Gaetz, a supporter of Donald Trump, the latter looking for re-election to the White Home subsequent yr, look set to proceed their drumbeat in opposition to support within the coming months.

What’s at stake?

On October 3, the White Home introduced that Biden had spoken to the leaders of allied international locations about persevering with coordinated help.

In his annual deal with to the UN Normal Meeting final month, Biden tried to counter struggle fatigue, which has develop into obvious in Europe, most notably in Poland and Slovakia.

“Russia believes that the world will develop weary and permit it to brutalise Ukraine with out consequence,” he mentioned. “However I ask you this: If we abandon the core rules of america to appease an aggressor, can any member state on this physique really feel assured that they’re protected?”

Past multilateralism, it’s additionally clear the US’s popularity as a world chief, shaken by its chaotic exit from Afghanistan in 2021, would undergo drastically if it walked away from Ukraine. Can Washington afford this at a time of rising tensions with Beijing?

None of this may have come as a shock to Zelenskyy, struggling to beat again Russian forces earlier than one other harsh winter units in. On his go to to Washington final month, wearing army inexperienced, he reportedly described the state of affairs to Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer within the baldest of phrases.

“If we don’t get the help, we’ll lose the struggle,” he mentioned.

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