On visit to Kyiv, Sullivan confident US House will pass additional Ukraine aid, eventually

CNNOn his first visit to Kyiv since accompanying US President Joe Biden to the Ukrainian capital thirteen months ago, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan reiterated his belief the US House of Representatives will eventually approve additional military aid for Ukraine despite it having been blocked – in various iterations – in Congress for months.

But speaking to journalists alongside Andriy Yermak, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s head of office, Sullivan was unable to put a timeline on when he expected such a package to pass.

“We are confident we will get a strong bipartisan vote in the House for an assistance package for Ukraine and we will get that money out the door [..] It’s already taken too long … I’m not going to make predictions about exactly when this will get done.”

Last month, the US Senate approved a supplemental bill which would have unlocked $60 billion of military aid for Ukraine, but House Speaker Mike Johnson refused to bring it to the floor for a vote. Current discussions on Capitol Hill are reportedly focusing on trying to get at least some of the aid approved in the form of a loan, which might secure support from House Republicans.

Political deadlock in Washington has coincided with Russia’s most significant battlefield gains for nine months, including the capture of the industrial town of Avdiivka, which Russian forces had been attacking heavily for months.

Even so, Biden’s main point man on Ukraine appealed to his hosts not to give up on the US.

“You should believe in the United States … We have provided enormous support and we will continue to do so every day and every way we know how.”

President Biden, he added, was fighting for the aid package every day.

Sullivan also meet Zelensky to discuss the “urgent need” for Congress to pass the bill, said National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson.

For his part, Yermak stressed that despite the hold-up there were no disagreements between Washington and Kyiv and said he understood the US president was doing his best to get the funding approved.

Doing his bit to strike a morale boosting note, Yermak said those who doubted Ukraine could still win the war should come and visit his country. “See our people, hear them, and feel the energy,” he said. “We are on the side of good.”

Sullivan’s visit comes just a week after the White House was able to announce an additional $300 million in military aid, the first such announcement this year, though one that even President Biden admitted was “not nearly enough.”

The funding was made available by unanticipated cost savings at the Department of Defense, Sullivan said last week, and meant artillery ammunition and air defenses, among other things, were already being transferred to Ukraine.

Asked whether any future weapons transfer would include longer range ATACMs which could reach up to 300 kms, Sullivan refused to be drawn, saying only that the two sides had constructive discussions around the sort of capabilities Ukraine requires.

The US began supplying an older, shorter-range, version of the ATACMs (Army Tactical Missile Systems) in the second half of last year, though Ukraine had been asking for them since the early months of the war.

Several news reports in recent weeks have suggested the Biden administration is mulling giving Ukraine a newer version of the missile system that would give Ukraine the ability to reach further into Crimea, territory illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.