Grim realization sets in over state of Ukraine war as funding fight continues in Washington

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Grim realization sets in over state of Ukraine war as funding fight continues in Washington

As President Joe Biden continues to urge top lawmakers to approve his $60 billion aid request for Ukraine, a grim realization has settled in for the administration that this is likely the last chance for any new US military funding to flow to the war-torn country before the 2024 presidential election.

Lawmakers have conveyed as much directly to the White House, a US official told CNN. And underscoring the current gridlock, Pentagon officials have not held a single meeting since last month to decide on what to send Ukraine from the Defense Department’s weapons stockpiles — because there is no money left to fund the aid packages.

Biden met with House and Senate lawmakers at the White House on Wednesday to outline what is at stake for Ukraine. At one point, the President turned to his national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to lay out specific capabilities that Ukraine would run out of in the coming months, according to a White House official familiar with the meeting, who declined to get into more detail. Another official told CNN that they specifically pointed to air defense systems and artillery ammunition as examples of key capabilities that could be depleted without US support.

Biden also warned that US personnel were on the line, saying that if the Ukraine-Russia war spills over into NATO territory, the US would have to get directly involved in the conflict.

But House Speaker Mike Johnson, who along with other House Republicans has tied additional Ukraine funding to a broader immigration deal, said afterward that continuing to fund Ukraine risked turning it into a quagmire for the US akin to its two-decade war in Afghanistan.

“We cannot spend billions of dollars without a clear strategy articulated and I told the president in the meeting today again, as I’ve been saying repeatedly, ‘Sir, you have to articulate what the strategy is. What is the endgame?’” Johnson said Wednesday night in an interview with CNN’s Kaitlan Collins.

At the White House on Thursday, Biden told reporters he thought the meeting went well and that he believed “the vast majority of members of Congress support aid” to Ukraine.

“The question is whether or not a small minority are going to hold it up, which would be a disaster,” Biden said.