Saturday , February 24 2024

Ukraine sees ‘big risk’ of losing war if US postpones aid


KYIV/ WASHINGTON: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s chief of staff said on Tuesday that the postponement of US assistance for Kyiv being debated in Congress would create a “big risk” of Ukraine losing the war with Russia.

The remarks by Andriy Yermak were some of the frankest yet from a senior Kyiv official as uncertainty swirls over the future of vital US and European Union assistance packages as Ukraine’s war with Russia rages on.

If the aid is postponed, “it gives the big risk that we can be in the same position to which we’re located now,” he said, addressing the audience in English “and of course, it makes this very high possibility impossible to continually liberate and give the big risk to lose this war.”

On Monday, White House officials said the US was running out of time and money to help Ukraine fight its war against Russia.

President Joe Biden’s administration asked Congress in October for nearly $106 billion to fund ambitious plans for Ukraine, Israel and US border security but Republicans who control the House with a slim majority rejected the package.

US officials hope they can still get a significant package approved.

Yermak singled out the threat of no more direct budgetary support as a problem. The Ukrainian government expects to have a $43 billion budget deficit next year.

“Of course, without this direct budget support, it will be difficult to keep … in (the) same positions and… for the people to really survive…during the situation when the war will continue,” he said.

“That is why it is extremely critically important that this support will be voted and will be voted as soon as possible.”

Yermak was making his second visit to Washington in a matter of weeks. He said he planned to press lawmakers and administration officials on the critical importance that Congress approve the new aid package.

Ukraine conducted a major counteroffensive push this year, but was unable to break through Russian defensive lines. Russia is now on the offensive in the east.

Yermak said that Kyiv had a plan for the next year.

“We really have a plan and this plan…includes the military operations…includes diplomatic activity and of course it includes our cooperation in the communications and information,” he said.

Ukraine relies heavily on economic assistance from the West and has received more than $68.5 billion in budgetary support during the war started by Russia in February 2022, finance ministry data shows.

Ukraine spends all its revenue on the defence sector and army, while budget sector overheads have been largely covered by Western aid. A single day of fighting costs about $136 million, Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko has said. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)

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