Ukraine’s military aid at risk as Republican opposition threatens U.S. support


3rd October 2023 – (Hong Kong) Experts warn that Ukraine’s armed forces could soon face a shortage of essential ammunition and equipment if Republican hardliners succeed in blocking U.S. military aid. This could undermine operations on the ground and weaken their ability to defend against Russian attacks.

The United States has been a key supporter of Ukraine, pledging to back Kyiv “as long as it takes” and providing over US$43 billion in security aid since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, accounting for more than half of all Western donations.

However, recent opposition from Republicans led Congress to remove new funding for Ukraine from a bill to avoid a U.S. government shutdown. This highlights the uncertainty of continued American support.

Mark Cancian, a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, expressed concern over the potential consequences of halting U.S. aid. He warned that the Ukrainian military could weaken and possibly collapse without support, although they may be able to hold a defensive position.

The United States has supplied Ukraine with a wide range of weaponry, including small arms ammunition, artillery rounds, vehicles, rocket launchers, tanks, and mine-clearing equipment. Cancian emphasised the importance of a continuous flow of weapons and supplies for militaries engaged in conflict.

While the White House insists that a complete cutoff of aid will not happen, the impact could be delayed due to previously authorised assistance still in the pipeline. However, an end to U.S. aid would leave gaps in Ukraine’s air defence, which plays a crucial role in protecting civilians and infrastructure from Russian drone and missile attacks.

Replacing the U.S. component of the air defence system would be challenging, as different countries provide systems covering various altitudes and requiring ongoing resupply of munitions. Although other countries, particularly in Europe, have provided military aid, filling the gap left by the US would present a significant long-term challenge.

The next steps from the Republican-controlled House of Representatives remain uncertain. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, whose party removed assistance for Ukraine from the recent bill, indicated that Ukraine’s aid would be tied to security measures against illegal immigration on the U.S.-Mexican border.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin called on Congress to act, emphasising America’s commitment to urgently assist Ukraine in defending itself against tyranny. The outcome of these political dynamics will determine the future of U.S. support for Ukraine in its ongoing conflict with Russia.