Biden administration blames Congress for fall of Avdiivka in Ukraine

ReBiden administBiden administration blames Congress for fall of Avdiivka in UkraineThe Biden administration said Saturday that Ukraine’s military withdrawal from Avdiivka was the result of Congress’ failure to provide additional funds to support kyiv’s war effort.

Ukraine ordered withdrawal from the eastern town of Avdiivka before dawn Saturday, the country’s first major battlefield loss since the fall of Bakhmut last year.

“This is the price of Congressional inaction,” said National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson. “The Ukrainians continue to fight courageously, but they lack provisions. »

The Senate this week passed an emergency aid bill including $60.1 billion for Ukraine, but the measure faces an uncertain fate in the House of Representatives, where Speaker Mike Johnson said that he did not intend to put it to a vote. The Biden administration has spent months lobbying for additional funds, arguing that Ukraine lacks artillery, air defense weapons and other munitions.

Ms. Watson said the House must pass the Senate measure.

“It is essential that the House immediately approve additional funding for Ukraine so that we can provide Ukraine with the artillery munitions and other critical equipment it needs to defend its country,” she said. declared.

Aid advocates are exploring ways to force a vote on the Senate bill, which also includes aid to Israel and Taiwan as well as humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in a package totaling $95 billion, or to create a package that could win Mr. Johnson’s approval .

On Thursday, John F. Kirby, a senior national security official, said Ukraine’s difficulties at Avdiivka were the result of a shortage of artillery ammunition.

The United States cannot send additional artillery shells to Ukraine because Congress has not authorized additional funding, Mr. Kirby said. As a result, Ukrainian forces were unable to successfully counter the waves of Russian troops sending into the city.

Mr. Kirby said that without additional aid to Ukraine, Russian advances seen at Avdiivka would be repeated in other parts of the front. U.S. officials also warned that by March, air defense munitions reserves would be strained, allowing more Russian missiles and Iranian drones to hit targets in Kiev and other centers of population.

It is unclear whether losses in eastern Ukraine will be enough to make Republicans skeptical about sending additional funds to kyiv. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill said they had not heard of a plan under which Ukraine could turn the tide on the battlefield, even if its supplies were replenished.

Administration officials acknowledge that even with more weapons, it will be difficult for Ukraine to reclaim all the land it has lost. But, they added, a well-supplied Ukraine could put more pressure on Russia and ultimately be in a better position for peace negotiations.

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