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The West supports Ukraine against Russia’s aggression. So why is funding its defense in question?

President Joe Biden reaches out to shake hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as they meet in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023, in Washington. The White House says funding for Ukraine has run out and it has been increasing pressure on Congress to pass stalled legislation to support the war against Russia. On Tuesday, however, Biden touted a new military aid package worth $200 million for Ukraine. That may seem contradictory, but it’s due to the complex programs used to send aid to Ukraine. | AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File
LONDON (AP) — Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelenskyy issued a warning to allies as he hopscotched continents urging them to support his war-scarred country as it defends itself against the Russian invasion.
Moscow’s “real target,” he said in Washington, “is freedom.”
That idea functioned as a rallying cry as the West lined up behind Ukraine at the start of the war. But 21 months later, support for Ukraine has become complicated, especially when it comes to spending government money. Zelenskyy headed home Friday without billions in aid proposed in the U.S. and the EU, with those plans pushed into limbo.
Here’s how it all unfolded:
THE ASK
Zelenskyy received a hero’s welcome around the world from the start of the war, but now he’s having to make in-person appeals for aid as his country fights, he said this week, “for our freedom and yours.”
“It’s very important,” he said in Washington, “that by the end of this year we can send very strong signal of our unity to the aggressor and the unity of Ukraine, America, Europe, the entire free world.”
The risk of inaction, he says: emboldening Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“If there’s anyone inspired by unresolved issues on Capitol Hill, it’s just Putin and his sick clique,” Zelenskyy told an audience of military leaders and students at the National Defense University in Washington.
He underscored the urgency in an interview with The Associated Press earlier this month, saying the winter posed additional challenges after a summer counteroffensive affected by enduring shortages of weapons and ground forces.
“Winter as a whole is a new phase of war,”” Zelenskyy said in an exclusive interview this month in Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine.
TANGLED SUPPORT IN THE U.S.
Close to half of the U.S. public thinks the country is spending too much on aid to Ukraine, according to polling from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Those sentiments, driven primarily by Republicans, help explain the hardening opposition among conservative GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill who are rebuffing efforts from President Joe Biden to approve more aid for Ukraine.
Republicans have linked Ukraine’s military assistance to U.S. border security, injecting one of the most divisive domestic political issues — immigration and border crossings — into the middle of an intensifying debate over wartime foreign policy.
Zelensky’s visit to Washington this week — where he appeared at a news conference with Biden and was squired around Capitol Hill by leading lawmakers — did nothing to change that. Congress left town for the holidays on Thursday without a deal to send some $61 billion to Ukraine.
A HOLDOUT IN EUROPE
There were two questions before the EU on Friday: Whether to advance Ukraine’s future membership in to the bloc, and whether to approve a 50 billion-euro ($54 billion) financial aid package that Ukraine urgently needs to stay afloat.
Hungary’s Viktor Orban left the room, effectively abstaining on the first question. Zelenskyy led a round of celebration for his war-ravaged country, tweeting thanks to “everyone who helped” the EU take the step.
But Orban wasn’t done.
He reappeared hours later to veto the proposal for wartime aid to Ukraine to prop up its war-weakened economy. He was the only member to vote against the package.
“Summary of the nightshift: veto for the extra money to Ukraine,” Orban wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. He also suggested that he had plenty of time to block Ukraine’s drive to join the EU down the road.
WHAT’S NEXT?
In the U.S., Senate negotiators and the Biden administration were still racing to strike a compromise before the end of the year. The Democratic-led Senate planned to come back next week in hopes of passing the package. But the Republican-led House showed no such inclination.
U.S. aid to Ukraine hasn’t dried up, but it’s complicated. The Pentagon and State Department on Dec. 6 said the U.S. is sending a $175 million package of military aid to Ukraine, including guided missiles for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), anti-armor systems and high-speed anti-radiation missiles, the Pentagon and State Department said.
The EU hasn’t given up either. French President Emmanuel Macron said later that there were other ways the EU could send aid to Ukraine. But he urged Orban to “act like a European” and support Zelenskyy’s country,
European Council President Charles Michel said leaders would reconvene in January to try to break the deadlock.
The post The West supports Ukraine against Russia’s aggression. So why is funding its defense in question? appeared first on East Idaho News.
Source: eastidahonews.com

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