US could stop pumping arms into Ukraine: reports
The United States is too plunged into its domestic issues to be able to continue sending aid to Ukraine, according to officials.
The days when Congress unanimously supported the US giving arms and equipment to Ukraine are seemingly over, with widespread support for aid dwindling as House Republicans are questioning whether American taxpayers' money would be better spent either against China or the economic hardship that is facing the United States, members of Congress have reported, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Any bill aimed at sending money or weapons to Ukraine passed in Congress without any questions asked, with unwavering bipartisan support, as US politicians saw it as a priority to keep Kiev armed to the teeth so that it can fight Russia.
Since the start of the war, the US has given Ukraine $15.8 billion for "security assistance", which includes a package worth $600 million in early September. Additionally, the White House asked Congress for $13.7 billion for "security and economic assistance" for Ukraine, which the body must pass by the end of the month to keep the Ukrainian government standing.
The opposition to aid to Ukraine is growing; not because the continuous flow of arms would only prolong the war, but because Republican members of Congress cannot justify spending so much money overseas when their country is grappling with various economic and financial crises, most notably soaring inflation.
With the November elections looming on the horizon, the Republican Party is growing more opposed to spending money on Ukraine, and cutting aid to Kiev is only projected to become more of a GOP priority if the red party wins the majority in the House of Representatives in January.
Los Angeles Republican Steve Scalise and New York Republican Elise Stefanik, the second and third most senior House Republicans, recently refused to reveal whether their party would continue pumping money into Ukraine if their party secures the majority.
"There are a lot of members that want to see more accountability in the Department of Defense and more of a focus on the threats that are out there," Scalise told reporters. "China is moving very aggressively to build up a naval fleet. And right now, our naval fleet is in decline."
Tensions have been on the rise between Washington and Beijing, especially over Taiwan. The situation escalated following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taipei. China considers Taiwan part of its territory and opposes any direct official foreign contacts with the island.
Pelosi's visit led China to end cooperation with the US on a number of issues such as climate change, anti-drug efforts, and military talks.
Bipartisan support is not dwindling all too much just yet, as many lawmakers said they expected the $13.7 billion requested by the White House to pass, though they were not too optimistic regarding future requests.
The prospect of Republicans taking over the House of Representatives and the growing GOP resistance to Ukraine aid have pushed the Congress and Biden administration officials to work on swiftly accessing as much assistance to Ukraine as possible before 2023.
If Republicans take control they could invoke a rule used by past GOP speakers that requires majority-Republican support before any bill is brought to the Senate floor for a vote, Arizona Democrat Representative Ruben Gallego said.
"Right now, Ukraine is doing very well," Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Mark Milley recently told reporters. "They've seized the strategic initiative, and the Russians have lost their strategic initiative."
The United States has not only been giving money and arms to Ukraine, as a senior official in the US Department of Defense said earlier this month that his country was closely engaged with the armed forces of Ukraine ahead of their Kharkov counteroffensive, providing Kiev's military with intelligence in the buildup to the operation.
The official then went on to underline how his country would continue providing training for Ukraine's military on modern weapon systems supplied to the country by the West as the war unfolds.
"The United States is already has been for a couple of months now been training Ukrainian forces on how to operate some of the newer, more modern capabilities that we have been supplying to Ukraine," the official said.
Despite Washington providing information to Kiev about Russian command posts, ammunition depots, and other potential targets, Ukrainian officials had been hesitant to disclose operational plans to their US counterparts earlier in the conflict, fearing that doing so "could highlight weaknesses and discourage continued American support," US officials told the New York Times.
However, all changed this summer, when Kiev concluded that discussing preparations for its counteroffensive would, contrary to past fears, compel Washington to supply Ukraine with even more weapons, according to what unidentified senior US officials told the NYT.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said a few weeks back that Ukraine has been awaiting another millions-of-dollars-worth shipment of rounds for US-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
After a meeting at the US air base in Ramstein, Germany, Reznikov said: "The Ukrainian delegation has wrapped up a very eventful and fruitful visit to the Fifth Ukraine Defense Contact Group … An additional $675 million aid package was announced at the meeting. It includes crucial HIMARS ammo."
HIMARS is capable of launching Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) missiles with a range of up to 50 miles as well as a single Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missile with a range of 186 miles. The US has been continuesly supplying Ukraine with GMLRSs, while Kiev continues to make demands for ATACMS delivery.
In addition to burdening the US with requests for aid, Ukraine is selling weapons it acquired from its allies on the black market due to the Kiev forces' limited ability to use them because of their lack of training, logistical challenges, and the diminishing size of the Ukrainian armed force, according to former senior Pentagon adviser Karen Kwiatkowski.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu previously said the arms supplied by the West to Ukraine were ending up on the black market and spreading across West Asia.
The statements by Moscow and the Pentagon are not just claims, as Kiev itself backed them by admitting that foreign aid meant for Ukraine was already being sold. Ukraine's Bureau of Economic Security Director Vadym Melnyk told Ukraine 24 that the agency had identified repeated cases of selling Western military and humanitarian aid.
Though the United States has been taking care of providing training for the Ukrainian soldiers when it comes to arms they are not accustomed to, Kiev is still selling its arms to the black market due to "inexperience".
A growing number of GOP lawmakers have shown signs of opposition to further pumping arms and money into Ukraine. A few months ago, the political wing of conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, Heritage Action, was against the Biden administration- and Congress-approved $40 billion aid bill. The think tank cited domestic inflation, domestic and foreign debt, and the spending priorities of Washington politicians as its main concerns.