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Military support: Could the “midterm” elections have consequences for the Ukraine war?

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The US congressional elections are not only about a lot domestically. Some Republicans are threatening to cut aid to Ukraine if they win. That would have serious consequences. Biden is concerned – rightly so?

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Kevin McCarthy spelled out what only far-right party colleagues had previously debated: why should the US keep giving billions upon billions to Ukraine while the economy at home is getting worse? “I don’t think people are going to sit in a recession and give Ukraine a blank check,” the top Republican in the US House of Representatives said in a recent interview.

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McCarthy’s comment is an open threat that Republicans could step on the brakes on aid to Ukraine if they win a majority in the chamber in the Nov. 8 congressional election. And their chances of that are not bad. A bluff or a real danger?

aid in the billions

The United States has paid huge sums of money to Ukraine in recent months. The US government launched one billion-dollar package after the other for Kyiv in rapid succession: commitments totaling around $18 billion for military equipment alone since the Russian invasion in February.

No other country has sent more weapons, more ammunition, more military equipment and more money to Kyiv than the United States. According to experts, the large-scale US arms deliveries have played a decisive role in the military successes of the Ukrainians to date. If significantly less comes from the United States, it could turn the tide of the war in Russia’s favor. And should the Americans no longer lead the way with enormous sums of money, other countries could possibly reconsider their contribution.

Biden: “It’s about NATO”

US President Joe Biden therefore expressed “concern” about McCarthy’s threat. The Republicans do not understand how far-reaching and serious such a blockade would be, he warned. “It’s about much more than Ukraine. It’s about Eastern Europe. It’s about NATO.”

In foreign policy, the US President actually has a relatively free hand. But when money is at stake, as in the case of the Ukraine aid, he depends on Congress to get the funds approved – especially on the House of Representatives. And Republicans have a good chance of taking control of the chamber after the election.

The previous billions for Kyiv were passed with cross-party majorities. According to a recent survey, almost three quarters of the population also believe that the USA should continue to support Ukraine. The course is not really controversial, at least not beyond extreme sections of the Republican Party.

It’s not the first time that McCarthy has taken up their style. If his party wins the election in the House of Representatives, the Republican wants to become chairman of the chamber and has been trying for some time to make a name for himself in his own ranks for the powerful post – especially among those in the party who are loyal to the Republican ex-president Donald Trump standing.

Is McCarthy’s push a dual strategy?

The scientist Gregory Magarian sees a double strategy in McCarthy’s initiative: On the one hand, the 57-year-old is trying to address some of the more extreme Republican voters, Magarian says in an interview with the German Press Agency. He conducts research at Washington University in St. Louis. Above all, McCarthy is concerned with “using this threat as a means of pressure to get more of what he wants on other political issues,” he says. “If the Republicans win the House of Representatives, he can say, ‘Okay, if Biden doesn’t give us what we want on XYZ, then we will reconsider our willingness to support aid to Ukraine.’

Magarian does not believe “there is a critical mass on the Republican side that fundamentally disagrees with the government’s stance on the war.” It would be very difficult for the party as a whole to take such a position and block military aid to Kyiv, he says. But even if it is not McCarthy’s goal to actually stop or dramatically reduce the aid, it is still ruthless and careless to handle such a threat, criticizes the scientist. Other countries and actors are dependent on stability from the USA on this issue.

The top Republican in the other chamber of Congress, Mitch McConnell, also made an effort to make it clear quickly after McCarthy’s statement that he had no intention of blocking aid to Ukraine in the Senate. It is in America’s national security interest to make it clear that states like Russia or China cannot simply absorb smaller neighbors.

Also resistance from the ranks of the Democrats

But even with Biden’s Democrats, things are not going smoothly when it comes to Ukraine. Most recently, a letter from 30 Democratic MPs made the headlines: the MPs condemned Russia’s war against Ukraine and praised the previous US aid for the country, but at the same time suggested that Biden change course. Their proposal: direct US negotiations with Russia to end the war more quickly. The White House dismissed it because it goes against Biden’s policy of not doing anything over Kiev’s head. After some excitement, MPs withdrew the letter. The fact that the advance from within his own ranks coincided with McCarthy’s threatening gesture did not make Biden look good.

All in all, after the election it could become more difficult and politically more expensive for the president to keep aid to Ukraine at the current level. Observers expect that he could preventively try to get a larger sum for Kyiv through parliament before the end of the year – that is, before the new congress meets in January. Almost in stock.

Source: Stern

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