White House warns US is running out of money for Ukraine war

The White House budget director says the US is running ‘out of money’ to support Ukraine’s defence

Andrew Feinberg
Tuesday 05 December 2023 05:45 GMT
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Jake Sullivan says every member of Congress should vote to support aid to Ukraine

The White House has issued a grave warning to Congress that if it fails to pass legislation by the end of the year to continue funding Ukraine’s defence, then Russia will be more likely to win the nearly two-year-old war.

In a letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda said that the Defense and State departments are at the stage where they have almost exhausted all available US funds for Kyiv — approximately $111bn — leaving recent assistance packages smaller and smaller.

“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 US military stocks,” she said.

“There is no magical pot of funding available to meet this moment. We are out of money – and nearly out of time”.

Ms Young said the failure to appropriate more funding for much-needed defence assistance to Kyiv would “kneecap” Ukraine’s defence forces, “not only putting at risk the gains Ukraine has made, but increasing the likelihood of Russian military victories”.

She added that US support remains “critical” and “cannot be replicated by others” – even as American allies across the globe have also contributed to Ukraine’s self-defence efforts.

The White House budget director’s warning comes as Mr Johnson has refused to make clear whether he would allow the House to vote on a supplemental funding bill that would include aid to both Ukraine and Israel, as President Joe Biden has requested.

While Republicans in the House have been amenable to allocating more funds to bolster Israel’s defence during the country’s month-old war against Hamas, a vocal faction in the GOP is opposing continued aid to Ukraine – largely because denying Kyiv assistance would be seen as denying Mr Biden a victory.

Jake Sullivan, Mr Biden’s national security adviser, told reporters at Monday’s daily White House press briefing that lawmakers who refuse to vote for the supplemental funding bill because of an objection to Ukraine defence aid are “voting for an outcome that will make it easier for Putin to prevail”.

“A vote against supporting Ukraine is a vote to improve Putin’s strategic position. That's just an inescapable reality, that's not speaking to someone's motive or why they chose to vote against it, that's just speaking to the outcome of their vote,” Mr Sullivan said.

“A vote against supplemental funding for Ukraine will hurt Ukraine and help Russia. It will hurt democracy and help dictators, and we think that that is not the right lesson of history, and that every member —Democrat and Republican — should vote to support this,” he added.

While GOP lawmakers have sought to justify their opposition by complaining that allocating funds for Ukraine does not benefit the US directly — or by suggesting that there are no controls on how the money at issue would be spent — Ms Young, the White House budget director, pointed out in her letter that Mr Biden’s request for supplemental appropriations would also pump more than $50bn into US-based defence manufacturing, including bolstering capabilities for building air defence systems, tactical vehicles, and artillery shells made in numerous different states.

Biden and Zelensky in the Oval Office in September 2023

She added that US aid to help Ukraine “secure its future as a sovereign, democratic, independent, and prosperous nation” would advance American interests by preventing a larger conflict in the region, one that could conceivably involve Nato and necessitate the deployment of US forces into combat zones.

“As President Biden has said, when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they will cause more chaos and death and destruction. They just keep on going, and the cost and the threats to America and to the world will keep rising,” Ms Young said.

She also warned the House speaker that the path he chooses – whether he allows the House to vote on Ukraine aid or not – will “reverberate for many years to come” and stressed that the US government is “out of money to support Ukraine” as of now.

“This isn’t a next year problem. The time to help a democratic Ukraine fight against Russian aggression is right now. It is time for Congress to act,” she said.

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