US backing for Ukraine wanes; but Biden, many Republicans still behind it

Spread the love

US backing for Ukraine wanes; but Biden, many Republicans still behind it

Washington:  Republican Kevin McCarthy, former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, became the first American to lose his job over the country’s continued funding for Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s ongoing war.

The security aid — which stands cumulatively $43.9 billion since the start of the war in February 2022 — is in danger.

A temporary measure passed recently to keep the US government running till mid-November, in the absence of an annual budget, made no appropriation for Ukraine.

The US military has $5.4 billion left from previously committed funds, but that is likely to run out soon.

President Joe Biden has vowed to stand with Ukraine for “as long as it take”. He has argued that the defense of Ukraine is in the larger security interest of the US.

“It’s overwhelmingly in our interest,” he said earlier this week. “I’ve spent two and a half years putting together coalitions that no one thought could be put together. And they’ve strengthened us across the board, not just as it relates to Ukraine, whether it’s Japan and South Korea.”

He might try to find ways to keep funding the war, but without budgetary support the money may not be sufficient.

Some members of the Republican party, which control the House of Representatives and the government’s purse-strings, are opposing continued allocation of money to Ukraine.

And they, led by Representative Matt Gaetz, toppled McCarthy accusing him of striking a secret deal with the Democrats to keep the money flowing to Ukraine.

He denied it, but couldn’t save his job, becoming the first Speaker in US history to be voted out of office; also the one with the shortest tenure.

McCarthy’s ouster had other reasons as well, but growing fatigue in US congress, especially among his Republican colleagues, reflects narrowing of popular support for the war.

Although six out of 10 Americans still favour economic and military assistance in a poll by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. It’s down slightly from last November. About half of Republicans agree.

A slim narrow majority of those polled said the $43 billion in weapons, equipment and training that the US has provided to Ukraine has been worth the cost — 53 per cent again, 45 per cent not worth the cost.

Six in 10 Republicans say it has not been worth it. Jim Jordan, a Republican lawmaker who leads the race to replace McCarthy as speaker, has been a long-time opponent to military assistance and has voted against all bills that support it.

And he told reporters this week: “The most pressing issue on Americans’ minds is not Ukraine. It is the border situation and crime on the streets.”

But the Republicans are divided.

Steve Scalise, the other leading contender for McCarthy’s chair, is a strong backer of Ukraine funding as are the Republicans heading the powerful armed services and foreign affairs committees of the House.

They want the administration to do more.

Two senior Republicans called upon the president to elucidate a strategy in a letter, saying: “A pledge to support Ukraine ‘for as long as it takes’ is not a strategy.”

“The data show that flagging desire to support Ukraine could be influenced by several factors, including decreased interest in news about the war; a reduced sense of threat from Russia, a desire for Europeans to take a larger role, a decline in the popularity of Ukrainian President Zelensky, and a growing sense that Ukraine has not been able to gain advantage in the conflict,” the council said.


Spread the love