The US leader urged Congress to pass stalled “supplemental funds” for Kiev as he met with the Ukrainian president
US President Joe Biden has promised another $200 million in emergency military aid for Ukraine. He made the pledge during an Oval Office meeting with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky on Tuesday.
The meeting comes after a bill intended to provide $60 billion in aid for Kiev was blocked in the US Senate last week, as Republicans demanded tougher immigration control on the southern US border in exchange for approving Ukraine assistance.
Speaking to reporters after the Tuesday meeting, Biden insisted that Congress “pass the supplemental funding for Ukraine” before breaking for recess, adding that failure to do so would be “the greatest Christmas gift” to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The decisions we make now are going to determine the future for decades to come, particularly in Europe,” Biden said.
The latest $200 million in aid announced by Biden will come from the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), which allows the Biden administration to transfer weapons from US stocks without congressional approval in the event of an emergency.
President Biden meets with Ukrainian President Zelensky meet in the Oval Office.President Biden: “I just signed another $200 million draw down for the Department of Defense for Ukraine. That’ll be coming down quickly.” pic.twitter.com/Epfoa7JGDx
— CSPAN (@cspan) December 12, 2023
The package will include ammunition for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), high-speed anti-radiation missiles, anti-armor systems, artillery rounds, missiles, demolition munitions, 4 million rounds of small arms ammunition, generators and other equipment and spare parts, the Associated Press reported, citing US officials.
Earlier in the day, Zelensky met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to plead for more aid amid Kiev’s ongoing conflict with Russia. The Ukrainian leader met with House Speaker Mike Johnson, as well as a number of other senators. Posting on X (formerly Twitter), Zelensky said he’d had a “friendly and candid conversation” with senate leaders.
Republican leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Tuesday, however, that it would be “practically impossible” for Congress to pass the supplemental funding package, which includes the stalled $60 billion for Kiev, before Christmas, saying it needed to be done as part of a broader package that includes changes to border security policy.
On Monday, Ohio Senator James David Vance called Zelensky’s trip “utterly disgraceful,” accusing the Ukrainian leader of coming to the US, “lecturing” Americans and “demanding” more of their taxpayer dollars.
Zelensky’s pleas to keep economic and military aid flowing come amid a six-month counteroffensive against Russia which has failed to yield significant results. Kiev’s troops have lost more than 125,000 military personnel and 6,000 pieces of heavy equipment since the beginning of June, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
Moscow has repeatedly warned that the continued supply of Western aid and weapons will only prolong the conflict, but won’t change its ultimate outcome.