Blinken promises Ukraine’s leader “enduring” U.S. support as war with Russia nears 2-year mark

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised sustained U.S. support for Ukraine in a meeting Tuesday with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, despite a row in the U.S. Congress on approving new funding.

“We are determined to sustain our support for Ukraine and we’re working very closely with Congress in order to work to do that. I know our European colleagues will do the same thing,” Blinken told Zelenskyy as they met at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The Biden administration has struggled to get Congress to approve a $60 billion aid package for Ukraine in the face of opposition from Republican lawmakers.

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan, far left, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, second from left, speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, second from right, during a bilateral meeting at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 16, 2024.

Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images


U.S. funding for Ukraine locked up in Congress

President Biden’s request for the Ukraine aid, part of a $106 billion foreign aid package, has been stalled for weeks amid demands from Republicans — including many supportive of the Ukraine assistance — that it include strict new border security provisions and changes to U.S. immigration policy.

Negotiations continue, but the White House warned before Christmas that the U.S. would run out of funding to assist Ukraine by the end of 2023 if more was not approved, with President Biden warning that if the funding wasn’t approved, it would be the “greatest Christmas gift” for Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Given former President Donald Trump’s bid to return to the White House with the U.S. elections in November, and his previous remarks suggesting some level of trust in Putin, Zelenskyy has been keen to stress to American politicians the importance of U.S. assistance as his country tries to fend off Russia’s ongoing invasion.


Ukrainian lawmaker worries country is “finished” without U.S. funds

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State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan had both discussed with Zelenskyy in Davos “the importance of continued global assistance to support Ukraine as it fights for its freedom and sovereignty” and “strongly reiterated the United States’ enduring support for Ukraine and its territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s illegal war of aggression.”

European funding for Ukraine blocked by Hungary

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday said Ukraine’s allies need to guarantee stable backing for Kyiv as questions swirl over future support from not only the United States, but the European Union.

“Ukraine can prevail in this war. But we must continue to empower their resistance,” the head of the EU’s executive arm told the Davos forum. “Ukrainians need predictable financing throughout 2024 and beyond. They need a sufficient and sustained supply of weapons to defend Ukraine and regain its rightful territory.”

EU leaders will hold a summit on Feb. 1 to try to overcome a block from Hungary on providing 50 billion euros ($54.5 billion) in financial aid to Ukraine over the next four years.


Zelenskyy tours Baltic states as Ukraine grows desperate for military aid

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The government in Kyiv desperately needs the funds to prop up its economy and keep services working as Russia’s all-out war heads toward the start of its third year.

Budapest — Moscow’s closest ally in the 27-nation EU — has signaled that it could agree to the aid if it is given the chance each year to veto further payments. EU officials say that if they cannot win over Hungary, the other 26 member states will look to provide cash outside the EU’s budget, but this would likely be for a shorter timeframe.

Despite the concerns over funding and Ukraine’s failure to make a breakthrough on the battlefield, von der Leyen said Russia was still “failing on strategic goals” with its war.

“Russia has lost roughly half of its military capabilities. Ukraine has driven Russia out of half the territories it had captured. Ukraine has pushed back Russia’s Black Sea Fleet,” she said. “Russia’s failure is also economic. Sanctions have decoupled its economy from modern technology and innovation. It is now dependent on China.”

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