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Biden: US Congress to blame for fall of Avdiivka

by Abbey Fenbert February 18, 2024 1:55 AM 2 min read
U.S. President Joe Biden gives a speech in the State Dining Room of the White House on Feb. 13, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
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Congressional inaction is responsible for Ukrainian forces' withdrawal from the embattled city of Avdiivka, U.S. President Joe Biden said in a White House statement released Feb. 17.

Ukrainian troops withdrew from Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast on Feb. 17 amid Russia's intensifying efforts to encircle and capture the city.

Biden held a call with President Volodymyr Zelensky on Feb. 17 to reiterate U.S. support for Ukraine ahead of the two-year anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion. According to the readout of the conversation, Biden said delays in U.S. aid to Ukraine led directly to Avdiivka's loss.

"This morning, Ukraine’s military was forced to withdraw from Avdiivka after Ukrainian soldiers had to ration ammunition due to dwindling supplies as a result of congressional inaction, resulting in Russia’s first notable gains in months," the statement read.

Assistance from the U.S., once Ukraine's largest military donor, has mostly run dry as Republicans in Congress refuse to approve additional funding. The Senate recently advanced a foreign aid bill including $60 billion for Ukraine, but the Republican-led House of Representatives has already voiced strong opposition to the legislation.

U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby warned on Feb. 15 that an artillery shortage on Ukraine's front lines could lead to the loss of Avdiivka.

"Russia is sending wave after wave of conscript forces to attack Ukrainian positions, and because Congress is yet to pass the supplemental bill, we've not been able to provide Ukraine with the artillery shells that they desperately need to disrupt these Russian assaults," Kirby said.

Following Ukraine's withdrawal from Avdiivka, Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said on Feb. 17 that the loss emphasizes the urgent need for artillery shells, among other weapons.

Biden once again urged Congress to approve security assistance for Ukraine.

Russian forces launched a heavy assault against Avdiivka in October 2023. The city, which lies only kilometers away from Russian-occupied Donetsk, is largely in ruins due to intense fighting.

Zelensky in Munich: ‘If Ukraine left alone, Russia will destroy us’
“Keeping Ukraine in the artificial deficits of weapons, particularly in a deficit of artillery and long-range capabilities, allows (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to adapt to the current intensity of the war,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

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