The Irish Times view on US aid to Ukraine: Congress held hostage

A small clique of far-right Republicans is blocking the aid that most lawmakers would support if they got the opportunity

For six months US Congress Republicans have stalled a vital $60 billion aid package for Ukraine, now forced to ration its depleted artillery stocks. Russian troops now outfire Ukrainian forces by a 5-to-1 ratio, a top US commander told a congressional hearing last week, warning that Ukraine could lose the war if the US did not send more ammunition, and fast. He was not crying wolf.

Western allies and Kyiv are entreating the US to free the cash. And a majority of Americans – 58 per cent, according to a recent poll – favour sending more economic aid and weapons to Ukraine. In congress the vast majority of Democrats and most Republicans back the package which could well sail through on a bipartisan vote. When it is put to a vote.

Yet, such is the power of Speaker of the House Mike Johnson that he has been able to avoid putting it to a vote for fear of being toppled by a clique of Trumpite right-wingers who oppose more funding for Ukraine.

Some insist that the war is unwinnable and that the US should simply force Ukraine to sue for peace – Trump says it should cede the Donbas and Crimea in exchange for a ceasefire, and promises he would seek to impose such an outcome as president. Others claim the US cannot afford to fund Ukraine, or are explicit supporters of Putin and his war aims, regarding Russia as a friend.

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In order to sweeten the pill for those far-right supporters who put him in place Johnson, who promises that a vote will be allowed shortly, is cynically tagging on to it a collection of unrelated measures from Republican wish-lists, like unfreezing the administration’s pause on liquefied natural gas exports. Whether that will placate the far-right is not clear.

That Ukraine’s beleaguered people should be held hostage to the Republicans’ internecine war and the whims of isolationists, is a sorry commentary on the state of American politics.And it risks encouraging more Russian military aggression, if Moscow feels that the west’s resolve is weakening.

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