The end of Ukraine aid is rapidly approaching. Reupping it won’t be easy

By | May 15, 2023

Politico reports:

Move over, Treasury. You’re not the only one with an X-date.

The $48 billion Ukraine aid package that Congress approved in December has about $6 billion left, meaning U.S. funding for weapons and supplies could dry up by midsummer.

That’s raising fresh concerns among lawmakers about what the White House is planning next, including when the administration will ask for another major package and whether it will be enough.

The funding, many members say, needs to continue to flow without interruption, especially as Kyiv prepares to launch what’s expected to be a sweeping counteroffensive and retake ground in the east from the Russians.

“It is critical that the administration provide Ukraine with what it needs in time to defend and take back its sovereign territory,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told Pentagon leaders during a hearing on Thursday. “We expect the administration not to wait until the eleventh hour if the Ukrainians need more before the end of the fiscal year.”

The White House is discussing a new package, and it will be timed to keep support for Ukraine flowing, said a senior administration official who was granted anonymity to speak ahead of an official announcement.

The official added that it’s unclear how Ukraine’s needs might change during or after the counteroffensive, but that the administration is “fully committed” to supporting Kyiv during and after the fight “for the long haul.”

But this isn’t the same Congress that approved the last big batch of money, nor is it the same set of circumstances.

This time around, any late-summer proposal by the White House could run up against the raging debate over the debt ceiling, and will almost certainly face opposition from a small but vocal group of Republicans that wants to slash spending on Ukraine. [Continue reading…]

NBC News reports:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy embarked on a diplomatic offensive this weekend to secure support ahead of his military’s long-awaited assault against Russian forces on the battlefield.

He was in London on Monday after a tour of European capitals that saw him meet with allied leaders and even Pope Francis at a decisive moment in the conflict.

Zelenskyy secured new military aid from France and Germany as his troops appeared to deal the Kremlin new blows on the ground and in the air, with Moscow’s army suffering further losses around the eastern city of Bakhmut and its air force losing as many as four aircraft.

It comes as China’s special envoy to Europe is expected to visit Ukraine, Russia and a number of European countries this week, as Beijing seeks to play the role of a neutral negotiator in the conflict with a push for peace that appears some way off.

China has not openly condemned the invasion, with the United States and its allies wary of its close ties with Russia.

Before sitting down with Li Hui in Kyiv, Zelenskyy embarked on a whirlwind tour of European allies to bolster his military as it readies a counteroffensive to recapture occupied territory. [Continue reading…]

Jonathan Sweet and Mark Toth write:

The rapidly deteriorating situation in Bakhmut is becoming increasingly bleak, if not tactically hopeless, for Russian President Vladimir Putin. May 9 has come and gone, and General Valery Gerasimov has still failed to capture the city, as ordered. Routed Russian troops have been captured on video as they fled fighting positions, abandoned weapons, and surrendered, as Ukrainian forces begin to aggressively capitalize on a growing military and psychological edge.

Bakhmut is rising up again, much like an ancient Greek Phoenix and Yevgeny Prigozhin has reduced himself to that of the chorus in a Greek tragedy. Repeatedly, over the last few days, the founder of the Wagner Group has popped up on Telegram to detail every strategic blunder by Gerasimov and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Bakhmut, blaming the hapless duo for the reasons why Russian “troops were fleeing” and for the overall “stupidity of Russian army commanders.”

Things seem to be only getting worse for the Kremlin. Putin’s house of cards is teetering on collapse. His grand design, of holding a celebratory Victory Day Parade in Red Square to mark the fall of Bakhmut, has now, humiliatingly, given way to Russian soldiers parading as fast as they can to get out of the Ukrainian salt mining town and surrounding area. All well-deserved but, it is important to remember: one rout does not win a war. [Continue reading…]