Ukraine becomes the biggest loser from the agreement to avoid the closure of the US Government | International

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The measures approved at the last—very last—minute in Congress in Washington have avoided the shutdown of the United States Government. But the law signed by President Joe Biden a few minutes before midnight on Saturday, which allows temporary financing of the operation of federal institutions, has left a victim along the way: Ukraine.

The measure—presented by the House of Representatives, with a Republican majority, and endorsed by the Senate, with a Democratic majority—excludes funds to continue military assistance to the country invaded by Russia. The supporters of this aid, a clear majority of both parties on Capitol Hill – the leader of the Republicans in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, is one of its most enthusiastic defenders – have promised that in the coming days they will again present a funding proposal . But something has become clear in the negotiations and votes throughout this week of ordeal by the hard Republican wing: the resistance of the radical Republicans to continue aid to the Government of Volodymyr Zelensky is increasingly firm and extends further among the ranks. of that party, especially in the lower house.

It is a perspective that, looking to the future, is of great concern in the White House and among those in favor of aid to kyiv. Elections are approaching in November 2024 that are promised to be very close, in which, in addition to the presidency of the country, the majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives will be at stake. And as the election campaign heats up, Republican lawmakers can be expected to become more and more reluctant to bless multimillion-dollar contributions to a nation that is far away from their voters, physically and mentally.

Biden interrupted his Sunday break for a televised speech on the issue that had not been scheduled on his agenda. “I want to tell our allies, the American people and the people of Ukraine, that they can count on our support. We will not abandon them,” he assured. In a previous statement he had insisted: “We cannot allow, under any circumstances, American support for Ukraine to be interrupted. I hope that the president of the House of Representatives [el republicano Kevin McCarthy] “Keep your commitment to the Ukrainian people and secure approval for the support needed to assist Ukraine at this critical time.”

Other aid supporters have put a brave face on the bad weather. The leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate, Charles Schumer, pointed out that the measure approved this weekend is only temporary: “We will continue to fight for more economic and security aid for Ukraine.” “Most Republicans in the Senate remain committed to helping our friends on the front lines, to investing more in American power that strengthens our allies and deters our main strategic adversary, China,” he stressed, for his part. part, McConnell. “I am confident that the Senate will approve new urgent aid to Ukraine later this year,” the Republican leader added.

At least for now, as far as the conflict in the attacked country is concerned, the members of the hard wing, the Freedom Caucus, have gotten what they wanted. Throughout last week they prevented the proposals being voted on from including the assistance items that the White House wanted: neither the 24 billion dollars (about 22.6 billion euros) initially proposed by the presidential office, nor the 6 billion dollars planned in a Senate initiative to defray short-term US government expenses.

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A financial assistance package contained in a specific provision for the State Department did go ahead. But to approve a routine and relatively modest $300 million item of military aid in the House on Wednesday, it had to be separated from the proposal for funds for the Pentagon. It received the green light, but mainly thanks to Democratic votes. And he pointed out a worrying trend for Kiev supporters: a majority of Republican congressmen (117 out of a total of 222) spoke out against it.

An amendment proposed by the de facto leader of this radical wing, Congressman Matt Gaetz, which completely banned assistance to Ukraine, received a resounding defeat: more than 300 congressmen rejected it. But 93 lawmakers, all of them Republicans, backed it. Just three months ago, a similar measure also by Gaetz had only garnered 70 yeses.

“Fundamental moment”

“It is a fundamental moment to have these funds,” appealed the spokesman for the White House National Security Council, John Kirby, in statements to CNN on Friday. Ukrainian forces are in the midst of a counteroffensive to recover territory occupied by Russia; The arrival of winter will complicate their progress, he recalled. The US Government, through the mouth of this senior official, also insists that a withdrawal of assistance by Washington could trigger a domino effect in other allied capitals, which in turn "could falter in their contributions." That would mean a certain defeat for Ukraine that would leave Russia at the gates of Europe and send a signal of weakness from Western powers to China in the Asia-Pacific.

Zelensky had traveled to Washington the previous week, precisely to implore congressmen not to cut off aid. Without it, he claimed, his country will lose the war. And the defeat will have serious consequences for the world order that the United States defends, he insisted, in a message that he reiterated again and again to the 100 senators - among whom support for Kiev is, with isolated exceptions, unanimous between the two parties. and to the leaders of the House of Representatives, including McCarthy himself.

The Ukrainian president's calls fell on deaf ears among the most radical Republicans in the lower house and the Trumpist wing of that party. The favorite candidate among the Republicans, former President Donald Trump, urges day in and day out to turn off the tap on contributions to Ukraine. In the debate between the candidates of that formation for the White House this week, some of them—Vivek Ramaswamy, the candidate closest to Trump in their approaches, and the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis—reiterated their intention to cut that assistance and allocate those funds to other US domestic priorities.

Among those who have voted against the measures favorable to Ukraine are Republican legislators who until now had defended the Government in kyiv, such as Congressman Mike García, from California. His argument: the war is dragging on, the counteroffensive does not yield great results, the Ukrainians receive more and more forceful weapons, but the end of the conflict is still not in sight. And it is not clear, they argue, that the Ukrainians will make the best use of those funds.

“It is not clear to me that the Ukrainians have a clearly defined strategy for victory, which will drive the Russians out of the eastern regions of Ukraine,” García pointed out in a video on Wednesday. “It is not clear to me that our countries, the United States and Ukraine, are aligned on the strategic objective of repelling Russia. And it is not clear to me that the Ukrainians are accepting military advice on how to win the war,” he added, pointing out that he cannot support “a blank check” for kyiv.

On the other side of the ideological arc, Democratic Congresswoman Betty McCollum, her party's main responsible for the allocation of defense funds, launched an opposite call: “Let's not abandon our democratic partners. Let us not abandon our EU and NATO allies now. Let's not abandon Ukraine."

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