Lloyd Austin visits Kyiv as worries rise over U.S. military funding

KYIV — Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Kyiv on Monday providing reassurance to Ukrainian leaders on behalf of the Biden administration that American help will proceed regardless of mounting opposition by Republicans in Congress and battlefield setbacks in opposition to Russian troops.

It’s Austin’s second go to to Ukraine since Russia’s February 2022 invasion, and he was anticipated to satisfy with President Volodymyr Zelensky, Protection Minister Rustem Umerov and Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, the nation’s prime navy officer.

Arriving on an in a single day practice from Poland as a result of Ukraine’s airports stay shuttered by the struggle, Austin was greeted by Bridget Brink, Washington’s ambassador in Kyiv.

Like different visits by senior U.S. officers, his journey was not introduced till he arrived for safety causes.

President Biden faces rising challenges in mustering political backing, particularly amongst Republicans within the Home, for sustaining the massive levels of support that has helped Ukraine maintain again Russia’s invading forces.

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Home Republicans stripped from a short lived spending invoice in September billions in new help for Ukraine proposed by Biden. And final week, Congress passed another temporary spending measure, additionally with out new help for Ukraine or for Israel.

The USA has been Ukraine’s largest single backer in its protection in opposition to Russia, offering greater than $40 billion in safety help.

Austin’s journey can be meant to sign that American assist won’t be undermined by Israel’s war with Hamas militants within the Gaza Strip. The Pentagon has rushed Israeli forces weapons and different navy provides within the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack into Israel.

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However in current weeks, international consideration has shifted closely to the Center East battle, and nervousness has been rising in Kyiv in regards to the challenges of sustaining Western assist and in addition the prospect that some backers might attempt to power Zelensky into negotiations with Moscow.

Zelensky and different prime Ukrainian officers are adamant that any territorial concessions to Russian President Vladimir Putin would merely reward his navy aggression, undermine worldwide legislation and endanger america’ NATO allies, particularly on the jap flank — whereas not offering any dependable assure of future peace.

U.S. lawmakers have voiced sturdy bipartisan assist for Israel however are extra divided over future aid to Ukraine.

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The Biden administration has proposed over $60 billion in further help to Ukraine, together with about $14 billion in funding for Israel, as a part of a massive supplemental package, however Home Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has resisted joint action on the 2 conflicts. Johnson has sought to separate the proposals and tie help to Israel to large cuts for the Inside Income Service.

Pentagon officers have stated they’re now “metering out” Ukraine help because the stockpile of accessible funds dwindles. Kyiv additionally depends on U.S. assist for its authorities price range along with weapons provides and different navy assist.

In an opinion piece in The Washington Put up final week, Biden argued that instability in Europe would finally attract america, because it had up to now.

“That’s why our dedication to Ukraine at the moment is an funding in our personal safety,” the president wrote. “It prevents a broader battle tomorrow.”

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Regardless of the rising challenges, officers touring with Austin stated america would be capable to proceed sending help, together with longer-range weapons and artillery ammunition, which have emerged as a cornerstone of Ukraine’s navy technique, “for a while” at the least.

“These are two militaries going through two totally different sorts of fights,” a senior protection official advised reporters forward of Austin’s arrival in Kyiv, relating to the joint calls for from Israel and Ukraine. “There’s some overlap,” the official stated, talking on the situation of anonymity to debate delicate safety issues. “However the place there may be overlap in sure sorts of ammunition … there isn’t a discount in provision of capabilities.”

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Pentagon officers are additionally hoping to be taught extra throughout their go to from Ukrainian leaders about how their technique in opposition to Russia will evolve now that winter is setting in, marking a possible turning level in a counteroffensive that has failed to realize hoped-for beneficial properties in recapturing territory occupied by Russia.

U.S. officers stated they anticipate Russia to make use of the winter to regroup its forces and conduct strikes on Ukrainian power plants and other civilian infrastructure, because it did final winter.

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