Ukraine takes U.S. funding block in stride after Hill vote

The Ukrainian government insisted Sunday it was not worried about U.S. support after a new package of aid to Kyiv was stripped out of the stopgap bill approved by Congress and signed by President Biden over the weekend to avoid a government shutdown.

The government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said it took heart from the pledges of Mr. Biden and senior congressional leaders of both parties and both chambers that they will now turn to a separate funding package of aid to Kyiv.

“We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted.” Mr. Biden said in a statement after the House and Senate approved the surprise spending package keeping the government open for at least another 47 days.

A top aide to Mr. Zelenskyy said Sunday on social media the Washington vote was not a cause for concern, despite clear signs that a growing faction of conservative House Republicans are unhappy with what House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has called a “blank check” for Ukraine as it tries to fight off a Russian force.

Mr. Zelenskyy even traveled to Washington after last month’s U.N. General Assembly to lobby for more support and to try to assure skeptical lawmakers that the U.S. military aid provided so far was being well spent.

“All key partners of Ukraine are determined to support our country until its victory in this war,” Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Mr. Zelenskyy said Sunday on the Telegram messaging app. “The Ukrainian delegation returned from the United States of America with clear confidence that there are no changes in support.”

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, have already issued statements calling for a standalone bill to fund Ukraine, though the measure may prove a tougher sell in the GOP-controlled House.

The administration is seeking another $24 billion in support for Ukraine on top of the nearly $114 billion in military, economic and humanitarian aid already approved by Congress for Kyiv.

Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, pressed Washington to quickly approve the money for Ukraine, telling reporters on a trip to Kyiv Sunday that the European bloc remains steadfastly behind Ukraine in the war.

“I have hope that [the stopgap spending package] will not be a definitive decision and Ukraine will continue having the support of the U.S.”,  Mr. Borrell said, according to a report from Kyiv by The Associated Press. “We are facing an existential threat. Ukrainians are fighting with all their courage and capacities, and if we want them to be successful, then you have to provide them with better arms, and quicker.”

But one prominent Ukrainian parliamentarian said the congressional vote was a signal Ukraine had to be more effective in shoring up U.S. and international support in the war against its larger and more populous neighbor, a war that has now gone on for more than 18 months.

“We need to speak the language of money with the U.S.” Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksiy Goncharenko wrote Sunday, also on the Telegram app. “How will the United States benefit from Ukraine’s victory? What will the U.S. get? What will American taxpayers get?” 

He added, “We need to act differently. Let’s fix this situation. We cannot lose.”

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

Source: WT