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Thursday, December 7, 2023

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

KYIV — Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Kyiv on Monday providing reassurance to Ukrainian leaders on behalf of the Biden administration that American support will proceed regardless of mounting opposition by Republicans in Congress and battlefield setbacks towards 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 high 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 large ranges of assist 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 support for Ukraine proposed by Biden. And final week, Congress handed one other short-term spending measure, additionally with out new support for Ukraine or for Israel.

The US has been Ukraine’s largest single backer in its protection towards Russia, offering greater than $40 billion in safety support.

Austin’s journey can be meant to sign that American assist is not going to be undermined by Israel’s struggle 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 assault into Israel.

However in current weeks, international consideration has shifted closely to the Center East battle, and anxiousness has been rising in Kyiv concerning 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 high 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 japanese flank — whereas not offering any dependable assure of future peace.

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

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The Biden administration has proposed over $60 billion in extra support to Ukraine, together with about $14 billion in funding for Israel, as a part of a large supplemental package deal, however Home Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has resisted joint motion 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 mentioned they’re now “metering out” Ukraine help because the stockpile of accessible funds dwindles. Kyiv additionally depends on U.S. assist for its authorities funds along with weapons provides and different navy assist.

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

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

Regardless of the rising challenges, officers touring with Austin mentioned america would be capable to proceed sending support, together with longer-range weapons and artillery ammunition, which have emerged as a cornerstone of Ukraine’s navy technique, “for a while” no less than.

“These are two militaries dealing with two totally different sorts of fights,” a senior protection official instructed reporters forward of Austin’s arrival in Kyiv, concerning the joint calls for from Israel and Ukraine. “There may be some overlap,” the official mentioned, talking on the situation of anonymity to debate delicate safety issues. “However the place there may be overlap in sure sorts of ammunition … there is no such thing as a discount in provision of capabilities.”

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Pentagon officers are additionally hoping to study extra throughout their go to from Ukrainian leaders about how their technique towards 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 mentioned they count on Russia to make use of the winter to regroup its forces and conduct strikes on Ukrainian energy crops and different civilian infrastructure, because it did final winter.

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