U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Dec. 5 that the U.S. would be "responsible for Ukraine's defeat" if the Congress does not pass a $61.4 billion military aid package, which is scheduled for a vote in the Senate later on Dec. 6.
President Joe Biden said that Congress failing to vote on the funding package would be "just wrong," adding that "the failure to support Ukraine is just absolutely crazy” and "against U.S. interests."
The comments came as a Ukrainian delegation of top officials visited the U.S. on Dec. 5 to meet with lawmakers.
The delegation included Defense Minister Rustem Umerov, parliament speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk, Presidential Office head Andriy Yermak, Strategic Industries Minister Oleksandr Kamyshin, and Oksana Markarova, Ukraine's ambassador to the U.S.
In comments at the United States Institute for Peace, Yermak warned that, without U.S. military support, Ukraine was at "great risk of losing the war."
President Volodymyr Zelensky was scheduled to address the U.S. Senate on Dec. 5, but it was canceled shortly before the planned remarks. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said that “something happened at the last minute,” without elaborating further.
In an interview with the television channel Fox News, Umerov addressed the cancelation of the speech.
"It's a war, and the situation can change, but I think President Zelensky would... do it whenever it would be possible next time," he said.
When asked about the prospect of a negotiated settlement with Russia, Umerov said that the "civilized world should be embarrassed" if that happens. He added that it would mean that authoritarian regimes can do what they want and that the "civilized world cannot defend itself."
Markarova said on Ukrainian national television that Zelensky had canceled the address because Congress was discussing a variety of issues that included domestic matters, not just Ukraine.
She also spoke about the planned vote on military aid, expressing confidence that it had bipartisan support in Congress but also acknowledging that American domestic political issues had become tied to the funding bill.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters on Dec. 5 that the Biden administration does not "think there’s any question about the legislative branch’s support for Ukraine. If you put funding for Ukraine in an up or down vote in front of both houses of Congress, it is our belief that it would pass."
On Dec. 5, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, long a public supporter of military aid for Ukraine, said that he "hopes all of our members vote no" on the aid package that includes support for Ukraine and Israel unless it contains provisions for increased border security.
McConnell and Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson have said in recent days that they hope Congress will pass Ukraine aid but have also sought to tie controversial border funding into the larger spending package. Democrats have accused Republicans of unnecessarily mixing domestic politics with the funding, which threatens support for Ukraine.
“When (Russian dictator) Vladimir Putin marches into a NATO country, (Republicans) will rue the day they decided to play politics with the future of Ukraine’s security,” said Democratic Senator Chris Murphy.
Johnson has also likewise accused Democrats of political posturing because of their refusal to negotiate on introducing heavy restrictions on immigration and "transformative change" to border security.
A Senate discussion on the aid package on Dec. 5, led by the U.S. secretary of state and defense secretary, escalated into a shouting match, with some Republican lawmakers storming out.