White House warns Israel crisis is stretching its ability to support Ukraine: ‘Running out of runway’

Biden administration moving with ‘sense of alacrity’ as John Kirby says aid won’t be ‘indefinite’

Arpan Rai
Friday 13 October 2023 15:56 BST
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Zelensky expresses solidarity with Israel ahead of Ramstein meeting in Brussels

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The White House said it was “running out of runway” on supporting both Ukraine and Israel as US Republican lawmakers warned they would protest any funding request for military aid from the Biden administration for the two crisis-hit nations.

“I think in the immediate term, right now, we can continue to support – with the authorities in the appropriations we have – Israel and Ukraine.  But, you know, we’re ... certainly running out of runway,” said John Kirby, a spokesperson for the National Security Council.

Mr Kirby was answering a question at a daily briefing on the administration meeting the immediate needs of Ukraine and Israel along with the continuing fight to elect a House Speaker.

Mr Kirby said the US administration had the means to support both Israel and Ukraine in the near term. “But you don’t want to be trying to bake in long-term support when you’re at the end of the rope,” he said on Wednesday.

“And on the Ukraine funding, we’re coming near to the end of the rope.  I mean, today we announced $200mn, and we’ll keep that aid going as long as we can, but it’s not going to be indefinite,” he said, adding that the US is moving with “a sense of alacrity”.

He added a certain date could not be put on “near term” because it hinged on Ukraine’s expenditure rate and replenishment ability.

The National Security Council coordinator also said the House Speaker position was critical in terms of bringing legislation to the floor and moving things forward.

“So the sooner that there’s a Speaker of the House, obviously, the more comfortable we’ll all be in terms of being able to support Israel and Ukraine,” he said.

The White House has been considering a budget request tying money for these two conflicts together to increase the chances that the heavily-debated assistance for Ukraine will be approved.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday called the attack in Israel “an act of sheer evil” and said that the US military assistance was being sent to help Israel in its fight.

Saturday’s Hamas attack was “the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust”, he said.

He told Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the US will send more military assistance to help Israel fight Hamas.

On Tuesday, he warned other countries and armed groups against entering the war. The US is already rushing munitions and military equipment to Israel and has deployed a carrier strike group to the eastern Mediterranean as deterrence.

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