Biden calls allies amid concerns over support for Ukraine


President Joe Biden convened a call with world leaders Tuesday, the White House said, in an effort to reassure allies about U.S. support for Ukraine after Congress passed a short-term government funding bill that did not include aid for the country during its war with Russia.

“The president reaffirmed the strong commitment of the United States to supporting Ukraine as it defends itself for as long as it takes, as did every other leader on the call,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Tuesday during a press briefing at the White House. “The leaders discussed efforts to continue providing Ukraine with the ammunition and the weapon systems that it needs to defend its territory, and to continue strengthening Ukraine air defenses as they prepare for more attacks on critical infrastructure.”

The group also addressed the “ongoing work to align and broaden donor efforts to support Ukraine’s economic recovery, as well as to work together with the global community to address the energy, economic and food security challenges caused by Russia’s war of choice,” according to a White House readout of the conversation.

The call comes amid concern from the Pentagon about dwindling resources available to send to Ukraine as the country looks to drive Russian forces out of its territory. The Defense Department still has $5.4 billion worth of weapons available to send to Ukraine, but is fast running out of money to replenish its own stockpiles.

“I think, given what we have left, and given the pace at which we’ve been providing support, you’re talking, perhaps, a couple of months or so roughly,” Kirby said during the briefing.

Leaders of several countries joined the call with Biden on Tuesday, according to the White House, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna also joined, as did NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel.

Congress’ decision to omit Ukrainian funding from its 11th-hour funding package was a serious blow to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who last month traveled to Washington to plead with congressional leaders for continued aid.

The U.S. is set to send another aid package to Ukraine “soon,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday.

Meanwhile, the debate over whether to approve funding for continued assistance to the country has only grown more complex in recent days. Biden on Sunday alluded to an agreement he made with Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Ukraine aid. But McCarthy, who is facing a possible ouster from his position in leadership, has denied he made any such agreement.

On Tuesday, Kirby brushed off the idea that the divisions among House Republicans would stifle efforts to approve more Ukrainian aid.

“I would also add, regardless of what happens in the House of Representatives, that all the House leadership is supportive of continuing to help Ukraine and the vast majority of House members on the Republican side are in support of continuing to help Ukraine,” Kirby said, calling Ukraine skeptics “a small number of vocal members.”

Source: Politico