US president Joe Biden stated that America would not abandon Ukraine even after Congress removed $6bn in aid to avoid a government shutdown. Republicans tied further funding to the contentious issue of border security.
“I want to assure our American allies, the American people, and the people in Ukraine that you can count on our support,” he said on Sunday. “We will not walk away.”
Biden added that the “vast majority of both parties” supported helping Kyiv and urged lawmakers to “stop playing games – get this done.”
Lawmakers omitted additional money for Ukraine from the bipartisan bill that will fund the US government until November 17. This surprise eleventh-hour compromise was accepted by the White House.
The move shocked many of Kyiv’s allies, coming just days after Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine’s president, visited Washington to rally support for renewed aid.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, expressed his surprise and regret over the decision. However, he emphasized that Europe would continue to support Ukraine regardless.
Germany’s governing Social Democrats warned that Ukraine is at risk of becoming a victim of radical Republicans. They called for a quick resolution to continue supporting Ukraine to avoid damaging the credibility of US foreign policy.
Ukraine’s new defense minister, Rustem Umerov, received assurance from his US counterpart Lloyd Austin that American support would continue.
Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, stated that while he supported Ukraine, his priority was America and border security. Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator, mentioned bipartisan support for both Ukraine assistance and strengthening the Southern border.
Biden urged Republicans to keep their word about supporting Ukraine separately, emphasizing that American support for Ukraine should not be interrupted.
Opposition to helping Kyiv mainly comes from radical House Republicans close to former president Donald Trump. Matt Gaetz, a hardline Republican, announced his intention to oust McCarthy as speaker for working with Democrats to avoid the shutdown.
Alicia Kearns, a Conservative MP from the UK, acknowledged that the situation was a “win for Putin” optically but expressed confidence in the US delivering what is required.
In August, Biden requested an additional $24bn in funding for Ukraine, on top of the $113bn already approved. Ukraine officials remained confident that there had been no material change in US support.
“Russia makes a mistake if it thinks it can ‘wait out’ military aid for Ukraine. Ukraine will only get stronger, and Russian aggression will fail,” said Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister.
Zelenskyy pledged to uphold Ukraine’s reputation and ensure international support for their struggle.
Tymofiy Mylovanov, an adviser to Zelenskyy’s administration, expressed doubt about the credibility of the message that the US stands with Ukraine as long as it takes.
Additional reporting by Guy Chazan in Berlin, Lucy Fisher in London, Javier Espinoza in Brussels, and Christopher Miller in Kyiv.