US nearly out of money for Ukraine’s war against Russia, White House tells Congress By Reuters

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© Reuters. A view shows a heavily damaged residential building, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in the town of Avdiivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine October 17, 2023. REUTERS/Yevhen Titov

By Jeff Mason and Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States is running out of time and money to help Ukraine fight its war with Russia, White House officials warned congressional leaders on Monday.

Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration in October asked Congress for nearly $106 billion to fund ambitious plans for Ukraine, Israel and U.S. border security but Republicans who control the House with a slim majority rejected the package.

Congress has to decide whether to continue to “support the fight for freedom in Ukraine,” or “ignore the lessons we learned from history and let [Vladimir] Putin prevail,” National Security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.

“A vote against supporting Ukraine is a vote to improve Putin’s strategic position. That’s just an inescapable reality,” Sullivan said.

White House budget director Shalanda Young in a letter to Republican House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson and other congressional leaders released Monday said cutting off funding and a flow of weapons to Ukraine would increase the likelihood of Russian victories.

“I want to be clear: without congressional action, by the end of the year we will run out of resources to procure more weapons and equipment for Ukraine and to provide equipment from U.S. military stocks,” Young wrote. “There is no magical pot of funding available to meet this moment. We are out of money – and nearly out of time.”

Congress has approved more than $110 billion for Ukraine since Russia’s February 2022 invasion but it has not approved any funds since Republicans took over the House from Democrats in January.

The House and Senate last approved $45 billion in military, financial and humanitarian aid for Ukraine as part of a broader annual spending bill passed in December 2022.

Johnson on social media said that Biden’s administration has “failed to substantively address” Republican concerns about Ukraine strategy and said that any national security spending package must include funds for the U.S. border.

“We believe both issues can be agreed upon if Senate Democrats and the White House will negotiate reasonably,” Johnson wrote on X, formerly called Twitter.

The House’s failure to consider the White House request has raised concerns that funding for Kyiv might never be approved, especially after it passed a bill in November with funding for Israel but not Ukraine. The Senate’s Democratic leaders rejected that bill.

Young said U.S. allies had stepped up their support for Ukraine, but that Washington’s support could not be replaced.

By mid-November, the U.S. Defense Department had used 97% of $62.3 billion in supplemental funding it had received and the State Department had used all of the $4.7 billion in military assistance fund it had been allocated, she wrote.

Around $27.2 billion in economic aid money had been used up, as had $10 billion in humanitarian assistance.

“I must stress that helping Ukraine defend itself and secure its future as a sovereign, democratic, independent and prosperous nation advances our national security interests,” Young said. “It prevents larger conflict in the region that could involve NATO and put U.S. forces in harm’s way and deters future aggression, making us all safer.”

The letter also went to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries.

Biden administration officials are due to hold classified briefings for the House and Senate on Tuesday.

With a nod to important political swing states and Republican strongholds ahead of the 2024 presidential election, Young noted that funding could be used for contracts with companies in Alabama, Texas, Georgia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Democratic Senator Mark Warner last week said that Congress was on the brink of making a tragic error.

“I think if Congress doesn’t provide aid before Christmas, it would be a historic mistake,” Warner told Reuters. “Israel will win its battle against Hamas without American assistance. President Zelenskiy has said Ukraine will not win, and we are at that critical moment that another punt by the United States after what happened a couple months ago would be an unparalleled disaster.”

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