Biden Apologizes to Zelenskyy for Ukraine Aid Delay

U.S. President Joe Biden apologized to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a face-to-face meeting on Friday for delays in the passage of a $95 foreign aid bill this spring that included $61 billion in new Ukraine-related spending.

Sitting with his Ukrainian counterpart in Paris, President Biden praised Ukrainian forces for continuing to fight more than two years after Russian troops invaded.

“You haven’t bowed down, you haven’t yielded at all, you continue to fight in a way that is just remarkable, just remarkable, and we’re not going to walk away from you,” President Biden said.

The U.S. president said funding for Ukraine has proven politically divisive within the United States and has delayed the support he has sought to provide.

“I apologize for the weeks of not knowing what’s going to pass in terms of funding because we had trouble getting the bill that we had to pass that had the money in it,“ President Biden said. ”Some of our very conservative members were holding it up. But we got it done finally.”

The Ukraine Aid Bill

Even before passing the most recent foreign aid package, the United States had provided $113 billion in military, humanitarian, and financial support to Ukraine since 2022.

As the U.S. taxpayer costs for keeping Ukrainian forces fighting have grown, numerous Republicans have begun to question the Biden administration’s policy goals for the war. Twenty-eight congressional Republicans signed a letter in September 2023, indicating they would not support new rounds of funding for Ukraine without a better understanding of how the previous funds had been spent, whether the Ukrainian military’s 2023 counteroffensive—bolstered by U.S. weapons systems—had made any notable progress retaking land from Russian forces, and what the Biden administration considered to be a policy victory in Ukraine that allows an eventual U.S. exit strategy from the conflict.

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By October 2023, as Republican opposition to new funding for Ukraine grew, President Biden proposed a supplemental spending package that would tie tens of billions of dollars in new Ukraine-related spending to military aid for Israel, alliance-building in the Indo-Pacific region, and funding for new U.S. border and immigration personnel and equipment.

Republicans sought to fast-track funding for Israel separately from the other contentious topics in President Biden’s supplemental spending proposal.
Through the end of 2023 and the first two months of 2024, many congressional Republicans also sought to tie the passage of President Biden’s broader supplemental spending proposal to stricter border security measures. Several argued President Biden could have broken the impasse through executive action, but the border policy debate instead played out through legislative negotiations that ultimately collapsed.
After border negotiations collapsed, the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate passed a $95 billion version of the supplemental in February that excluded border and immigration funding and garnered divided Republican support. That bill continued to sit in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives for weeks thereafter amid continued Republican opposition.
Just days after Iran and its regional allies launched a wave of drone and missile attacks against Israel in retaliation for a suspected Israeli airstrike on an Iranian diplomatic compound in Syria in April, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) split and amended elements of the $95 billion Senate bill into a package of four separate bills that the House soon passed with broad bipartisan support. Mr. Johnson’s move broke the impasse over the spending supplemental and allowed funding for Ukraine to progress along with the other elements of the supplemental.

Another $225 Million For Ukraine

Since the passage of the $95 billion foreign aid package in April, the Biden administration has drawn from the new allowance for Ukraine to provide six new infusions of funding and military assistance to the Zelenskyy government.

On Friday, the Biden administration announced another tranche of weapons for Ukraine, which it valued at $225 million. The U.S. Department of Defense said this tranche would include air-defense missile systems, rocket artillery ammunition, 155mm tube artillery pieces and 155mm and 105mm artillery shells, 81mm mortar systems, Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles, Javelin and AT-4 anti-tank missile launchers, M113 Armored Personnel Carriers, transport trailers, coastal and riverine patrol boats, ammunition and grenades for front-line troops, demolition charges, night-vision devices, and assorted maintenance equipment.

Speaking with Mr. Zelenskyy on Friday, President Biden said another round of U.S. funding would go to help Ukraine repair its electrical grid, which has been damaged and degraded in the ongoing fighting.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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