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Ambassador: EU “very impatient” over delayed $60 billion US aid to Ukraine

As $60 billion in Ukraine aid stalls in Congress, the EU’s ambassador to the US urges approval, saying Ukrainian people are fighting for Western values and Putin must not outlast support.
European Union’s Ambassador to the United States Jovita Neliupšiene interviewed on 28 February 2024 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Jasper Colt/USA TODAY
Ambassador: EU “very impatient” over delayed $60 billion US aid to Ukraine

Europe’s urgency over the US’ stalled $60 billion in Ukraine aid is highlighted by Jovita Neliupšienė, EU’s new ambassador in America, as she works to convey the critical need for action to congressional leaders amidst delays in the Republican-controlled House, according to USA Today.

The aid package has been stalled since last fall due largely to opposition from the far-right Republicans in the US Congress, suspending military assistance that Kyiv badly needs to fight Russia. The Senate passed a $95 billion foreign aid bill, including $60+ billion for Ukraine, last month with bipartisan support, yet Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson made clear he wouldn’t give it a vote on the House floor.

When Jovita Neliupšienė moved from Lithuania to Washington two months ago, she packed a closet full of business attire but left behind the emergency “go” bag that many Lithuanians keep for a potential Russian attack, highlighting the proximity of the threat:

“You have to always have money, gasoline and so forth” on hand, said the EU Ambassador to the US. “Because it’s literally on your doorstep.”

According to USA Today, Neliupšienė says Americans “are in favor” of helping defend Ukraine, with more than 70% supporting US actions for Ukraine, according to polls:

“So when someone is saying that you have to persuade your constituencies, it’s not true,” she said, “What is extremely important is the leadership – the moral clarity.” 

Despite nearly three-quarters of Americans viewing Ukraine’s defense against Russia as crucial to US interests, obstacles remain for Jovita Neliupšienė, as the GOP’s House majority and opposition to aid, tied to loyalty to Donald Trump, hinder efforts to secure $60 billion in stalled US aid, contrasting with the EU’s support.

“Russians don’t care about the people, they don’t count human lives,” she said. “And they would spare actually no life to get what they want. And that’s why the war in Ukraine is so brutal.”

Neliupšienė says that neglecting to aid Ukraine will encourage further invasions. The recent appeal from Transnistria’s leaders for Moscow’s protection underscores this concern. Neliupšienė warns that if Putin’s actions are successful, it could embolden other authoritarian leaders with global consequences.

UK Defense Secretary Shapps urges US Congress to approve aid for Ukraine

European concerns over diminishing American interest are apparent, as French President Emmanuel Macron’s suggestion of potential troop deployment to Ukraine is rebuffed by NATO leaders and threatened by Putin as risking nuclear conflict.

Macron doesn’t rule out sending troops to Ukraine; Stoltenberg says NATO has no such plans (updated)

“We need two feet on the ground, one on one side of the Atlantic, another on the other side, over there, if we want to have success and to see this war over,” emphasized Neliupšienė.

While aid money remains stalled on Capitol Hill, both Washington and Brussels are exploring ways to seize Russian government assets to rebuild Ukraine. The Senate is preparing to vote on the Repo Act, allowing the government to seize $5 billion in frozen Russian assets in the US. The EU is considering taxing the interest on an estimated $170 billion in frozen Russian assets, potentially generating $5 billion to $6 billion annually for Ukraine. Senator Jim Risch highlighted the EU as a crucial partner in these efforts, especially in reclaiming Russian sovereign assets for Ukraine’s reconstruction.

During a visit to Washington on 26 February, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski urged House Speaker Mike Johnson to allow a vote on Ukraine aid. At the Atlantic Council, Sikorski warned that any setbacks for Ukraine on the battlefield would be Johnson’s responsibility, according to USA Today.

The European ambassador, echoing the White House and the Senate, expects an aid breakthrough in the House:

“Everybody in Europe is getting very impatient,” she emphasized, adding: “The Ukrainian people are looking toward Europeans and Americans, for they want to be with us and in our institutions.”

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