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US and German leaders pressure US Congress for Ukraine aid

President Joe Biden, right, meets with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the Oval Office of the White House on February 9, 2024. (Photo by AP)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Joe Biden urged US lawmakers to approve a long-delayed military aid package for Ukraine, warning that Kiev could defend itself against Russia without it.

On Friday, Biden criticized Congress for not passing the fund for Ukraine, and said that it would be “close to criminal neglect” if it failed to do so.

“The failure of the United States Congress in not supporting Ukraine is close to criminal neglect,” Biden said in the Oval Office, as he hosted Scholz who came to visit Biden to lend his support to obtain funding from Congress for Kiev.

“It is outrageous,” he said.

The White House has consistently issued warnings for several months now, emphasizing that the absence of assistance from lawmakers to Kiev would severely impact its capacity to combat Russia.

Scholz, who is the leader of Europe’s biggest military backer for Kiev, said he hoped for progress in unblocking the multi-billion-dollar US assistance for Ukraine.

“Without the support of the United States and without the support of European states, Ukraine would have not a chance to defend its own country,” Scholz warned.

“That is why we are both firmly convinced that this must happen now, but also confident that the American Congress will ultimately make such a decision,” he told reporters.

He further remarked that Europe has now made decisions to get “necessary financial support to the budget.”

The European Union approved a four-year, 50 billion-euro ($54 billion) facility for Ukraine last week.

He later hinted that Congress to allocate funds for Ukraine as well, as he advocated for Biden, adding, “Hopefully Congress, the House, will follow you and make a decision on giving the necessary support.”

While talking about the Russian military campaign in Ukraine with reporters, Scholz said he had been encouraged by the US Senate’s move on Thursday to advance a $95.34 billion bill that includes aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

The ongoing political deadlock in Washington has resulted in a shortage of crucial ammunition for Kiev, coinciding with the gradual advances made by Putin’s forces in a relentless winter offensive in eastern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the West in a first interview with a Western journalist that it is “impossible” to defeat the Kremlin in Ukraine.

“Up until now, there has been the uproar and screaming about inflicting a strategic defeat to Russia on the battlefield,” Putin said during the more than two-hour interview. 

“But now they are apparently coming to realize that it is difficult to achieve, if possible, at all. In my opinion, it is impossible by definition,” he added.

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