Not funding Ukraine a 'massive and historic mistake', CIA director warns

Hungary's Victor Orban says Donald Trump told him US would not give another 'penny' to Kyiv if he is re-elected

CIA chief William Burns appears before a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing. Bloomberg
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The head of the CIA warned on Monday that it would be a “massive and historic mistake” for the US to cut funding to Ukraine in its fight against Russia's invasion.

William Burns's remarks before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence came shortly after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Donald Trump had told him that Washington would “not give a penny” to the war effort if the former president were to be re-elected.

Mr Burns said that without supplemental US assistance, Ukraine is likely to lose “significant ground” against Russia this year.

An additional $60 billion in Ukraine funding has been approved by the Senate but the Speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is refusing to bring the matter to a vote after Mr Trump pressured him not to, wary of giving the Democrats an election-year win.

Mr Burns described the Ukrainian city of Avdiivka, which fell to the Russians last month as the Ukrainian military ran out of ammunition, as a cautionary tale of more such losses to come.

“Without supplemental assistance in 2024, you're going to see more Avidiivkas and that, it seems to me, would be a massive and historic mistake for the United States,” Mr Burns told the committee.

But, he said, if Ukraine does get the money, it could regain the offensive initiative by the beginning of next year and negotiate from a position of greater strength.

On Friday, Mr Orban met Mr Trump at the former president's Florida home.

Speaking about his visit to public broadcaster M1 late on Sunday, Mr Orban said the two men spoke about the war in Ukraine.

“He has a very clear vision, which is hard not to agree with. He says the following: first of all, he will not give a penny in the Ukraine-Russia war,” Mr Orban said.

“That is why the war will end, because it is obvious that Ukraine cannot stand on its own feet … If the Americans do not give money, the Europeans alone will not be able to finance this war. And then the war is over.”

Updated: March 11, 2024, 11:01 PM