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U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby speaks during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on March 21, 2023. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin is taking advantage of delays in U.S. aid to Ukraine to further Russian military efforts, U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said at a press conference on March 4.

Aid for Ukraine has been stuck in the U.S. Congress since Autumn 2023. The U.S. Senate on Feb. 13 passed a $95 billion foreign aid bill that includes $60 billion for Ukraine, as well as funds for Israel and other allies, but the proposal is yet to be approved by the House of Representatives.

After delaying the vote for weeks, House Speaker Mike Johnson said on Feb. 29 that his chamber would consider the foreign aid bill "as soon as the government is funded."

Congressional leaders managed to pass a short-term stopgap spending bill to avoid a partial government shutdown without funding for Ukraine.

Holdups in U.S. assistance have put a significant strain on Ukraine's efforts to resist Russian aggression, causing ammunition shortages and contributing to the loss of a key front-line city of Avdiivka.

Responding to a question about whether Putin is trying to weaponize U.S. hesitancy to send aid to Ukraine, Kirby stated that Ukraine's depleted ammunition supplies are helping Russia achieve stronger military advantages.  

"So part of this is trying to get them to pare down their inventory because he knows that the United States is now not able to send a significant amount of support and aid to Ukraine," Kirby said. "He’s certainly taking advantage of what he’s seeing happen on Capitol Hill.  And the dysfunction in our own system up there on Capitol Hill is definitely giving him an opportunity to place his own military positions at greater advantage."

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer warned during his visit to Lviv in February that Ukraine is at risk of losing the war without American aid, urging the House Speaker to put the bill to a vote.

Earlier this week, U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson reportedly met privately with Republicans who support military aid to Ukraine about crafting an alternative foreign aid bill in the House.

According to internal U.S. estimates, Ukraine's ammunition shortage "could effectively turn the tide of the war and lend Russian President Vladimir Putin a significant advantage."

ABC News: Ukraine could face ‘catastrophic’ arms shortage within weeks, US officials say
Ukraine could face a “catastrophic shortage of ammunition and air defenses” by late March if Congress does not pass a bill that contains $61 billion in crucial funding for Kyiv, ABC News reported on Feb. 22, citing two anonymous U.S. officials.

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