WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s top aides have told lawmakers bluntly personal appointment on Wednesday If Congress does not authorize additional military aid to Ukraine in the coming days, Russia could win the war within weeks, or months at best.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told lawmakers that Ukraine will run out of certain capabilities. air defense and artillery capabilities In the coming weeks, according to people familiar with the meeting.
A grim assessment that one White House official described as “incredibly harsh,” the future of Ukraine aid has never been more uncertain. It also comes as White House officials increasingly anxious In the event that Biden does not fulfill his promise that the United States will stand by Kiev “as long as it takes.”
At a meeting at the White House on Wednesday, Sullivan and Haines gave top congressional leaders a classified timeline for when Ukraine’s key military resources would be significantly depleted and a detailed assessment of current dynamics on the battlefield, two people familiar with the meeting said. he said.
The White House official offered specific dates for when Ukraine’s various capabilities will be reduced in the short term, and Sullivan emphasized that Ukraine’s situation will become more difficult over the course of the year.
Aides to the president told lawmakers that the lack of aid would affect more than Ukraine and could prompt other countries that rely on the United States, including Japan and South Korea, to reconsider their alliances, according to people familiar with the meeting. Their message, these people said, was that a Russian victory would “reverberate around the world” because the U.S. failed.
At the meeting, a bipartisan group of congressional leaders agreed that providing aid to Ukraine is a national security priority, but acknowledged differences over how to move forward with the legislation.
The Ukraine aid, which has been held up in Congress for months, is part of legislation that also funds border security for Israel, Taiwan and the United States. in October, Biden asked An additional $60 billion in military aid to Ukraine, part of which will be used to replenish US reserves. Congress had previously authorized nearly $75 billion in aid to Ukraine.
For weeks last fall, White House officials expressed confidence that more aid would pass from Congress, noting that most Republicans and Democrats supported it. But opposition from some congressional Republicans stalled the legislation, and negotiations between a bipartisan trio in the Senate on policy changes at the southern border, a top priority for Republicans, have been difficult.
Although crucial issues remain with the border portion of the bill, Senate leaders both sides expressed optimism this week that the upper house can pass the law soon. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters after the meeting at the White House that he put the chance of a deal at “more than half” and then said they could start working on the legislation as early as next week.
The fate of the legislation in the House is more uncertain.
Biden has warned for months, including in an Oval Office address to the nation, that the lack of new aid would be dire for Ukraine and the broader world order. The White House said last month that it had provided Ukraine with the last portion of available U.S. funds, a statement that drew skepticism from some lawmakers, including those who support aid to Ukraine.
Sullivan and Haines generally predicted that without more U.S. military assistance, Ukrainian forces could only continue fighting the Russians for weeks, if not months. A White House official said Russian President Vladimir Putin is making battlefield decisions based on Ukraine’s vulnerabilities since the Biden administration announced last month that it was providing the last authorized U.S. military aid to Kiev.
For example, Sullivan and Haines told lawmakers that it was no coincidence that Putin launched the largest airstrike since the war began in February 2022 after Congress went home last month without approving more aid, according to people familiar with the meeting.
The president’s aides said that Ukraine is more vulnerable to attacks from Moscow, and Congress is in a standstill.
Two people familiar with Wednesday’s meeting said administration officials discussed in more detail the U.S. assessment of Ukraine now and in the future.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has visited Washington twice in the past five months to personally make the case for aid, has taken an uncharacteristically muted stance as military aid to his country remains uncertain. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week, the usually cartoonish Zelenskiy appeared more subdued and made no public appeals for aid, according to a senior administration official.
It’s a change welcomed by the Biden administration, the official said, adding that some officials felt Zelenskyy had overplayed his hand in the past by putting too much pressure on Congress.
In Davos, Secretary of State Antony Blinken tried to reassure Zelensky that there is still broad, bipartisan support in Congress for funding Ukraine and that officials are working on that process, a senior administration official said.
On Friday, Biden warned that unrest could spread across Europe if Congress does not pass additional aid to Ukraine.
“If we leave and Russia continues their attacks and collapses Ukraine, what do you think will happen in the Balkans?” Biden said during an event with American mayors. “It changes the dynamic.”