The tensions within the Republican Party, which led earlier this week to the dismissal of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, threaten in the short term the continuation of American financial aid to Ukraine.
Although a majority of elected representatives in Congress from all parties continue to support Kyiv, the current paralysis of the lower house resulting from the politician’s fall and the uncertainty surrounding the intentions of his possible successor worry the president’s administration Joe Biden.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was in Washington a few weeks ago to plead his case, has stressed in recent days that the situation is “dangerous” for Ukraine.
“If American aid were to stop, the impact would be devastating for the Ukrainian offensive and would even affect the army’s ability to resist Russian troops,” said Mark Cancian, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. .
The ongoing political crisis in Washington stems from the action of a core of radical Republican elected officials close to former President Donald Trump who are hostile to the extension of aid to Ukraine, arguing that the Money should instead be used to solve domestic problems, such as border management.
No money for Kyiv
These few elected officials precipitated the fall of Kevin McCarthy by accusing him of having voted, with the Democratic camp, a temporary budgetary envelope which made it possible to ensure, at least until mid-November, the financing of federal agencies.
The envelope in question did not include money for Kyiv. The Biden administration, which wants to have Congress approve additional spending of $24 billion for this purpose, hoped to achieve this later, but the impeachment of the Speaker of the House of Representatives changed the situation.
Two Republican elected officials have so far expressed their interest in taking the helm of the House of Representatives. The first, Steve Scalise, is not considered hostile to continued aid to Ukraine unlike the second, Jim Jordan, who benefits from the support of Donald Trump.
A vote to decide between them could take place next week, but nothing says that the nomination will be done quickly since it took fifteen rounds of voting to elect Mr. McCarthy.
Scott Anderson of the Brookings Institution notes that a House speaker hostile to providing substantial aid to Ukraine could refuse to put the issue to a vote using his powers.
“He would probably be subject to significant political pressure, but it’s theoretically possible,” he says.
As political uncertainty continues, budgets already approved to support Kyiv are running out.
The Pentagon recently warned that the American administration can still transport nearly 4 or 5 billion in military equipment by drawing on existing arsenals, but only has the funds to replace a third of it.
With available resources, the supply of military equipment could be stretched until the end of the year, but the Ukrainian army would start to see a difference in supplies as early as mid-November, Cancian points out.
Part of the solution, if the impasse persists, could come from Europe, which says it is determined to intensify its efforts.
However, it seems unlikely that the countries of the region will be able to compensate for American support if it were to ultimately dry up, underlines Dominique Arel, a Ukraine specialist attached to the University of Ottawa.
Many states on the continent have already provided a substantial part of their arsenal and face significant logistical problems in reviving their industrial arms production capacity, he said.
“The orders placed today will not solve the problem of support in the short term,” underlines the analyst, who is not afraid of seeing support for the Ukrainian cause fade in Europe.
A party headed by a pro-Russian leader promising to put an end to Ukrainian aid recently won elections in Slovakia, but it does not seem in a position to slow down the actions of the European Union in this area.
Like Hungary, which is critical of support for Ukraine, the small country is very dependent on European financial support for its development and will want to avoid any head-on confrontation on this level, notes Mr. Arel.