The Future of U.S. Weapons Assistance to Ukraine

Noah Silverbrook

Updated Thursday, October 5, 2023 at 5:11 AM CDT

The Future of U.S. Weapons Assistance to Ukraine

The Biden administration is expressing concerns about the future of U.S. weapons assistance to Ukraine following the ouster of Republican House speaker Kevin McCarthy. President Joe Biden plans to deliver a "major speech" emphasizing the importance of arming Ukraine and expressing concerns about the political upheaval's impact on future U.S. support.

While Biden mentioned the possibility of finding other means to fund weapons deliveries to Ukraine, no specific details or available funding sources were provided. However, lawmakers and administration officials are aware of the time sensitivity and potential setbacks Ukraine could face on the battlefield if the flow of U.S. arms and ammunition is disrupted.

The administration is actively exploring options to shift funds to Ukraine and seeking support from allies. Top national security officials, including Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown, are scheduled to brief Biden about Ukraine, highlighting the seriousness of the situation.

Biden has reassured world leaders that the U.S. remains committed to assisting Ukraine in defending itself. Despite some opposition, there is still majority support in Congress for providing weapons, ammunition, and aid to Ukraine. McCarthy's tenure as speaker has demonstrated the influence of hard-line lawmakers in shaping the congressional agenda.

However, political support for additional military aid to Ukraine has become increasingly uncertain, with some Republican House members questioning or opposing it. Proposed additional funding for U.S. aid to Ukraine was removed from a recent compromise deal to avert a government shutdown, disappointing Ukraine.

U.S. aid to Ukraine is politically significant for Biden as he prepares for re-election. He sees his ability to unite the U.S. and its allies in supporting Ukraine as a major achievement and warns of risks to the current world order if support wanes and Putin succeeds.

Public support for arming Ukraine has eroded in recent months, with a September 24 ABC News poll finding that 41% of Americans believe the U.S. is "doing too much to support Ukraine." However, senior Republicans and Democrats in the Senate vow to secure further funding for Ukraine. Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) issued a joint statement committing to support Ukrainian allies.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) states that assistance to Ukraine is still a major priority with bipartisan backing. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and McConnell plan to work together to secure funding for Ukraine. The administration currently has enough funding authorities to meet Ukraine's battlefield needs for a little longer, but Congress needs to act to ensure continued support.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warns that cutting off U.S. support for Ukraine would have devastating consequences for national security and could lead to a war with NATO. Western aid for Ukraine will be a key topic at meetings with U.S. allies in Europe next week.

The Republican Party has become increasingly divided over U.S. aid to Ukraine, and the issue was part of the standoff in the House that nearly led to a government shutdown. The 45-day continuing resolution that averted the shutdown did not include any new Ukraine aid, disappointing many Democrats.

President Joe Biden plans to deliver a "major" speech about funding for Ukraine and the importance of keeping the commitment to Ukraine. He believes that it is overwhelmingly in the interest of the United States for Ukraine to succeed. The administration's focus on international coalition-building has improved the U.S.'s position, with Biden mentioning the importance of strengthening relationships with countries like Japan, South Korea, and Europe.

Biden's argument in his upcoming speech will likely highlight the broader implications of supporting Ukraine, not just in relation to Ukraine itself, but also in terms of strengthening international relations. The speech is expected to address the significance of Ukraine's success and the benefits it brings to the United States.

Overall, the future of U.S. weapons assistance to Ukraine remains uncertain, but the Biden administration is determined to find alternative funding sources and secure support from allies. The administration's commitment to Ukraine reflects its belief that supporting Ukraine is crucial for national security and maintaining international order.

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