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6 Jan, 2024 15:04

White House warns of ‘dire’ Ukraine aid situation

Washington drastically needs congressional approval for new funds to continue supporting Kiev, a top US budget official has warned
White House warns of ‘dire’ Ukraine aid situation

The White House desperately needs congressional approval of its major aid package for Ukraine if support for Kiev is to continue, Shalanda Young, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, told journalists on Friday. Washington has very few other options left to continue the aid flow, she said, warning that time is running out.

The US provided Ukraine with a $250 million arms package in late December, deemed the last one due to a lack of funding. According to Young, the administration of President Joe Biden decided to forgo its drawdown authority, allowing it to take weapons from existing US stockpiles and send them to Kiev. These stocks cannot be refilled without funding that is yet to be approved by Congress.

The Pentagon still has some limited authority to provide the Ukrainian military with weapons, but “that is not going to get big tranches of equipment into Ukraine,” the official added. Earlier this week, Pentagon spokesman Major General Patrick Ryder also said the US Defense Department was running “out of money” for Ukraine.

The situation with the aid for Ukraine is nothing short of “dire,” Young admitted, warning of an event when the US would potentially have to stop its assistance to Kiev completely.

“Yes, Kiev might have a little time from other donors to make sure they can keep their war footing, keep the civil service, but what happens in the [European Union], in other NATO allies, if the US pulls out their support?” she told journalists at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

The official warned that such a development might also prompt other nations to withdraw their support for Kiev. “What message does that send to the rest of the world? And what will their decisions be if they see the United States not step up to the plate?”

Biden urged lawmakers to pass a massive aid package, including some $61 billion for Kiev, in late October 2023. The bill remained stuck in Congress for months amid Republican opposition, which demanded a stricter border protection policy. The legislation was eventually left in limbo after Congress shelved it late last year, postponing discussions until after the holiday break.

At the same time, another major donor – the EU – also saw its major aid package to Kiev delayed due to internal disagreements. A planned four-year scheme worth some €50 billion ($55 billion) was vetoed by Hungary late last year, with deliberations on it pushed into 2024.

Amid such developments, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour earlier this week that his nation had no “plan B” without the US military aid. He also reiterated Kiev’s demands for combat drones, long-range missiles, and air defense capabilities, among other gear.