What happens if the US runs out of aid funding for Ukraine?

Time running out for Congress to send financial assistance, with Kyiv locked in stalemate against Russia

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The US has run out of money for Ukraine right as Kyiv's counter-offensive against Russia stalls and Moscow looks to seize battlefield momentum.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is in Washington this week to plead for more money as Ukraine fights for survival, but Republicans in the US House of Representatives appear set to block any additional funds to the war-torn country.

Since the February 24, 2022, invasion, the US has sent $44.2 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, according to a Pentagon fact sheet. But supplies are dwindling, as evidenced by Washington's latest $175 million security package.

“We are out of money to support Ukraine in this fight. This isn’t a next-year problem,” White House director of the Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young wrote in a letter to leaders of Congress last week.

The latest aid package was also emblematic of the changing landscape, with EU countries now committing more to Ukraine's defence than Washington.

“For the first time, the US is now lagging behind by a large margin, also because there have been no meaningful new US pledges over the past months,” Christoph Trebesch, researcher at the Kiel Institute, said in a news release.

President Joe Biden has asked Congress to pass an emergency spending bill, in which $61.4 billion of the $110.5 billion requested would be allocated to Ukraine.

While the US remains Ukraine's largest military donor at $47 billion in commitments, failure to approve new military assistance would mean Kyiv will lose its biggest military supporter. By comparison, Germany, Ukraine's second-largest military donor, has committed $18.3 billion in security assistance.

US support for Ukraine was crucial to Kyiv fighting off Russian advances as Moscow launched its invasion. Now, with Ukraine struggling in its counter-offensive, Russia has looked to make advances in the east.

And with Republicans sceptical over funding Ukraine, Congress may close for the year without delivering the aid Kyiv needs for its survival.

'He won't stop there'

With the war in Ukraine at a stalemate, Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska sought to portray continued financial assistance as essential to Kyiv's existence.

“In simple words, we cannot get tired of this situation, because if we do, we die,” she said in a recent interview with the BBC.

In the US, pro-Ukraine hawks have sought to describe aid to the country as an investment in US national security interest.

Mr Biden upped the stakes further last week when he suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin will continue his offensive if Kyiv falls, dragging the US into the war.

“If Putin takes Ukraine, he won’t stop there. It’s important to see the long run, here,” Mr Biden said during a White House address.

“If Putin attacks a Nato ally … well, we’ve committed as a Nato member that we’d defend every inch of Nato territory,” he added in reference to Article 5.

“Then we’ll have something that we don’t seek and that we don’t have today: American troops fighting Russian troops – American troops fighting Russian troops if he moves into other parts of Nato.”

Updated: December 12, 2023, 6:10 AM