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Politico: Zelensky told Johnson Ukraine could only hold on until 'March or April' without US aid

by Martin Fornusek April 27, 2024 10:52 PM 2 min read
U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson makes his way to a House Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 6, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
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Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky told U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson last December that without American support, Kyiv could fend off Russian attacks only until March or April, Politico reported on April 26, citing its undisclosed sources.

The U.S. assistance for Ukraine had been blocked in the U.S. Congress since October 2023 until April, when Johnson called a vote on a foreign aid package that included $61 billion for Ukraine.

The Ukraine aid bill was promptly approved by both chambers and signed by U.S. President Joe Biden, restoring the flow of American military assistance.

Johnson's refusal to hold a vote on previous iterations of the aid bill has led many to blame the speaker for the delays that put a heavy strain on Ukrainian defenders.

Politico wrote that when Zelensky met Johnson in the speaker's office last December, he provided him with a "deadline" for how long Ukraine could hold on without Washington's backing.

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This meeting and the pessimistic prognosis "contributed greatly to Johnson's decision" to hold a vote despite the opposition of hardline members of the Republican Party, Politico reported.

Soon after, Johnson's team was reportedly tasked with drafting a workable aid package by that deadline "just in case."

This was a notable shift compared to previous months when the speaker insisted on tying the foreign aid components with border security measures, which were seen as too draconic by the Democratic Party.

Another influence that pushed Johnson toward putting forward the Ukraine bill was his national security adviser, Josh Hodges, Politico said.

Hodges reportedly told Johnson that aiding Kyiv was a "cost-effective" way of countering the growing axis between Russia, China, and Iran.

There has been much debate on the real motivations behind Johnson's shift, and it is far from certain that there had been one decisive factor.

Despite Politico's story, after meeting Zelensky in December, the speaker said that the two officials had a "good" meeting but said that it had not affected the conditions for passing the bill.

How Johnson came to allow a vote on Ukraine aid after months of delays
After more than six months of hedging, backtracking, and unfulfilled promises, U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson finally allowed a vote on aid for Ukraine, which was passed on April 20. President Joe Biden made a request to Congress in October 2023 for $61 billion in aid for Ukraine. Following
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