Secretary of State Blinken is bringing money, arms and promises to Kyiv. However, at home, political support for Ukraine stands on uncertain ground.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, produced lovely images of harmonic solidarity last week. During Blinken’s unannounced visit to Kyiv, the two dined harmoniously in a reopened McDonald’s, and Blinken not only brought another $175 million arms package including depleted uranium munitions, he delivered categorical statements of aid. “Just as we have stood with you to ensure your nation’s survival over these past 20 months, so we will stand with you as you determine your future and rebuild a free, a resilient, a thriving Ukraine,” Blinken said.
In doing so, Blinken has clearly extended the familiar promise of “as long as it takes” once more — supporting Ukraine until it repels the Russian war of aggression. Blinken does this knowing that massive support for Ukraine stands on shaky ground in American domestic politics. President Joe Biden still has a solid Ukraine ally in Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. But the now 81-year-old president not only has increasingly more obvious health problems, there is also an election next year in the United States.
And according to the most recent polls, a majority of Republican voters are against further military aid for Ukraine. Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is only saying so far that he is against providing a “blank check,” but this could get worse. The new $40 billion aid package, which Biden is currently trying to get through Congress (half of which is for military aid), could be the last for the time being. Things will then get tight for Ukraine. After all, the 42.1 billion euros (approximately $44.9 billion) in military aid from the United States so far has been followed by Germany with 17.1 billion euros (approximately $18.2 billion), but then nothing will come for quite a while from the U.K. and the European Union. If the United States stops, there is no replacement.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump claims he could end the war in a single day — and he recently revealed how he plans to do so. He would tell the Ukrainian president that there will be no more support if he doesn’t immediately send a peace proposal to Moscow. If Vladimir Putin accepts, there will be peace. If Putin rejects it, Trump intends to send Ukraine more arms than ever before.
This standard will likely define the American debate as soon as the presidential campaign really gets underway. The prospects are not good for Kyiv.