Ukraine still hopeful for US aid package after Senate setback

Ukraine says it is hopeful that US lawmakers will approve new military aid for the country, despite Senate Republicans blocking a package on Wednesday.

Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the US, said she thought Congress could vote again by the year’s end.

Republicans opposed the bill because it did not also include the US border security measures they wanted.

Another vote will be difficult with Congress slated to go home next week.

Markarova said in a Facebook post that her office continues to work actively with Congress. She said she hoped that lawmakers would approve a package that “will include defense, budget, humanitarian and energy aid for Ukraine” by Christmas.

The Senate is set to break for a holiday recess on 15 December and negotiations between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are at a standstill. Any bill would also have to be approved by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which has proved hesitant to continue the US financial commitment to Ukraine.

The $110bn (£87.3bn) package proposed by President Joe Biden included $61bn for Ukraine, as well as funds for Israel and aid for Gaza.

The bill also included billions of dollars for increased border security. 

But as migrant crossings at the US-Mexico border have reached near-record highs, Republican lawmakers have pushed for sweeping US immigration reforms. Their proposal would include more restrictions on those applying for asylum and resumed construction of a border wall.

The Senate vote did not come as a shock to Ukrainian officials, who were aware of Republican concerns.

But the failed aid package “does not eliminate the possibility of re-introducing the bill to the vote in the near future”, Ms Markarova wrote on social media.

Ukrainian officials meet with Senate Democrats
Image caption,Oksana Markarova and other Ukrainian officials met with members of the Senate this week, but Congress remains at an impasse over new funding for Kyiv.

Despite the outward assurances, there are deepening concerns in Washington and Kyiv that vital military funding has become entangled in the contentious US border debate.

The US only has a few more weeks to continue its pace of support for Ukraine before funding runs dry, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said at a White House press briefing on Wednesday.

“We know that there’s strong bipartisan support out there,” he added. “It’s just that there’s a small number of republicans who want to hold that aid hostage for some pretty extreme border policies.”

The impasse in Washington comes at a crucial time for Ukraine as its counter-offensive against Russia has stalled.

The White House and Ukrainian officials have warned that US funds for Kyiv are running out. The officials and outside experts appear to agree that Kyiv could lose the war without them.

An end or significant curtailment of American military support would likely allow Russia to win, a recent analysis by the Institute for the Study of War warned.

Despite the failed vote, Ukraine plans to remain composed and “firm”, said Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine.

“Regardless of who, where and how they voted in any country in the world, we will not stop defending our country, we will not give up a single piece of our land and we will not forgive anyone killed or injured,” he wrote on X. “We will focus … reload our weapons and continue to destroy the [R]ussian monster.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *