Joe Biden worked on Tuesday to reassure the United States’ allies about the sustainability of American support for Ukraine, which depends on the outcome of budgetary discussions that are, to say the least, chaotic.
The American president organized a conference call to “coordinate further aid to Ukraine,” the White House said in a short press release.
He assured that he remained “optimistic about continued support from both parties [américains] and both houses” of the US Congress in kyiv, according to John Kirby, spokesperson for the National Security Council.
Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Council, Charles Michel, German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna participated in the exchange.
Jens Stoltenberg spoke on the social network X (formerly Twitter) of a “good conversation” and added: “We promise to support Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
The head of the Italian government explained, in a press release, that Joe Biden had “wanted to reassure the allies about continued American support for Ukraine, including following recent Congressional decisions”.
A French diplomatic source said that “the phone call was made very quickly”, and added that Catherine Colonna had “reiterated the firmness of [l’]French commitment to the Ukrainians.
“That was the general tone of the exchange,” said this source.
At the same time, the White House is maintaining pressure on the national political scene.
“Time is against us,” John Kirby said at a press conference on Tuesday, referring in particular to the need to support the Ukrainian armed forces as winter approaches.
He estimated that American aid could still last “a few months” if Congress did not vote for new funding.
The Pentagon agreed while urging Congress to ensure the continuation of American aid.
“We have enough funding capacity to meet Ukraine’s battlefield needs for a little longer, but we need Congress to act to ensure there is no interruption in our support,” Pentagon deputy spokesperson Sabrina Singh said.
The US Congress, made up of the Senate currently with a Democratic majority and the House of Representatives, has about a month and a half to adopt an annual budget, which should include a new envelope to finance military and humanitarian support for Ukraine.
So far, the White House estimates the extra money needed to continue supporting the Ukrainian war effort at $24 billion.
In reality, the American federal state should have had a new budget since 1er October, but very strong tensions within the Republican majority in the House of Representatives made any vote impossible.
The situation has become even more complicated with a risk of dismissal of the conservative boss of the House, Kevin McCarthy.
The United States is the main driver of the Western coalition that has been set up to confront Russia, and also – by far – the leading suppliers of aid to Ukraine, in the form of heavy and sophisticated weapons.
Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, recently estimated the amount of military assistance provided to Kiev since Russia’s invasion at $47 billion, plus direct budget support from “1 to 1.5 billion dollars” passing through the World Bank, and around ten billion dollars in humanitarian aid.
The Kiel Institute for the World Economy, a German institute that tracks aid to Ukraine, estimates that the United States has spent just under $75 billion on the country so far.
This makes it the world’s leading contributor in absolute value, and the 13th if we relate the sum to Gross Domestic Product (0.3%).