Republican hold-up of funds for Ukraine exposes ebbing public interest

Washington, Dec 10 (IANS): As Ukraine prepares for fighting to intensify over the winter months, its ability to withstand Russian forces will be severely diminished by dwindling military supplies from the US and its allies because of the failure of American lawmakers to pass legislation authorising additional funds, which is emblematic of ebbing public interest in the war that has ground to a stalemate.

A bill proposing $111 billion in security assistance to Ukraine and Israel failed a vote in the the US senate on Wednesday, despite a last-minute appeal from President Joe Biden, who warned lawmakers that their vote “is going to be long remembered, and history is going to judge harshly those who turned their backs on freedom’s cause”.

The bill proposes $61.4 billion in security and economic aid for Ukraine and about $14.3 billion in military supplies to Israel, accompanied by more than $9 billion in humanitarian assistance to both countries and to Gaza. To sweeten the pot for Republicans, the Biden White House added $7.4 billion in security assistance to Taiwan and other Pacific allies; and almost $14 billion for security on the border with Mexico.

Top negotiators from the two parties are continuing to talk and Republicans have said they have felt encouraged by Biden’s promise of “significant” concessions on immigration, which has emerged as the key issue holding up the funding package. Republicans are pushing the Biden administration for more restrictive measures on immigration in exchange for approving the president’s security aid package.

Although President Biden has continued to say that the US will stay with Ukraine for “as long as it takes”, a promise he made early on in the conflict, the mood of the American public has shifted.

A Gallup poll from earlier this month showed that 41 per cent of Americans overall say the US is doing too much, which has risen from 24 per cent in August 2022 and 29 per cent in June 2023; 33 per cent, which is down from 43 per cent in June, say the US is doing the right amount, while 25 per cent believe the US isn’t doing enough.

More Republicans and Independent voters than Democrats believe the US has done too much, and want a quick end to the conflict. A solid majority of Democrats are with the president, on doing more and for as long as it takes although they will be tested as the war drags on with the widely noted failure of Ukraine’s counteroffensive and continuing Russian offensive.

The White House has said funding for Ukraine will dry up by year end if congress did not approve additional funding. But the Pentagon has said there is some money left. Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said on Tuesday there is about $1.1 billion in funding to replenish US military stockpiles for weapons and equipment sent to Ukraine. and there is roughly $4.8 billion in drawdown authority still available, essentially supplying Ukraine from US stockpiles.



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Title: Republican hold-up of funds for Ukraine exposes ebbing public interest

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