From the White House, Kirby is calling on Congress to approve funds for Ukraine

The White House is looking for options given the obstacle House Republicans are building to approving a major aid package for Ukraine, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told VOA.


President Joe Biden's administration is considering options to help Ukraine as Republicans in the House of Representatives continue to block a $95 billion foreign aid package passed by the Senate that includes $61 billion in support To Kyiv in the fight against Russia.

In an interview on Wednesday with the Voice of AmericaNational Security Council spokesman John Kirby said President Joe Biden wanted to use Thursday's State of the Union address to highlight the importance of continued support for Kyiv and highlight his administration's success in “restoring American leadership.”

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

VOA: How will the president use this opportunity to convince lawmakers and House Speaker Mike Johnson of the urgent need for military support for Ukraine?

John Kirby: I don't want to preempt the President's speech. Naturally, he looks forward to the opportunity to speak before the American people, before Congress and, frankly, before the world, about all the incredible things he has accomplished in these three and a half years as President of the United States. From the economy to education to healthcare to employment, but also on the world stage and truly restoring American leadership on a global stage.

That's what American leadership gives you. It gives him the power to unite, it gives him tremendous capacity, and it certainly allows him to influence and influence the decision-making and actions of other leaders around the world, particularly adversaries, to better align with our national security in the Interests are in harmony. Support for Ukraine is undoubtedly the first and most important thing.

It's about helping Ukrainian soldiers succeed in these battles Russian aggression, but it is also an advantage for our national security because the panorama on the European continent has changed. And if we just walk away and let (Russian President Vladimir) Putin keep Ukraine, which he still wants, then he will be knocking on the doors of NATO.

Also read: Russia warns of 'inevitability of direct conflict' if NATO sends troops to fight in Ukraine

VOA: Ukraine is rationing ammunition and losing territory, partly due to a lack of American support. Do you see a way forward with the additional package or should the Ukrainians prepare for the reality in which there will be no American help?

Kirby: We will continue to work with Congress to see if we can pass this amendment. It is so important. We are also working with allies and partners on the contributions they could make. It's not that they aren't already doing it, it's that they're doing it, but we're looking at what more could be done.

And of course, within our own system, within our own government and across the administration, we are looking at whether there is anything else we can do to support Ukraine. But we have nothing. None of these efforts can replace the volume and scope that the supplement would offer us.

VOA: But could there be a Plan B?

Kirby: We never stopped thinking about what other opportunities might be available to us. But whatever they are, they won't be as good as additional financial support. There is no way to replace that. As I have said many times, there is no magic source that can do what the supplement can do. But are we analyzing options? Yes definitely. Given the situation on the ground, particularly in the East, we must do it.

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VOA: But do you still think the amendment can be approved?

Kirby: It's hard to say with certainty. This will really depend on President Johnson. We know, and Johnson knows, that if he speaks up it will pass. There is a lot of bipartisan support for this; in both parties. There is no doubt about that. The real question is: Will he put it to a vote before the full House? and only he can answer this question.

VOA: Six countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, Germany, Denmark and France, recently signed bilateral security agreements with Kyiv aimed at providing security guarantees to Ukraine before it joins NATO. Should we expect such an agreement between the United States and Ukraine soon?

Kirby: We've been working with the Ukrainians for a long time, obviously making sure they have what they need in this war and talking to them about what they're going to need when the war is over, because when and how the war ends , we decide We will still have a long border with Russia that we must protect.

So, yes, the United States is talking to our Ukrainian counterparts about what more we can do in the long term to ensure that they can defend their own national security interests and those of the Ukrainian people. I have nothing to announce or discuss at the moment, but these are discussions we are having with the Ukrainians.

Also read: Russian drones attack Ukraine as European leaders meet to show support for Kiev

VOA: More on the State of the Union: How will the president handle the worsening situation in Gaza and America's strategic competition with China?

Kirby: Again, I don't want to prejudge the President's speech, but I do want to point out the things he said earlier. On Israel: How important it is to ensure that Israel can defend itself against the still real threat of Hamas, to ensure that more humanitarian aid comes (to Gaza), and that we free the hostages. Try to implement this new hostage-taking agreement so that we can reach a temporary six-week ceasefire to ease the suffering on the ground, and try again to find ways to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people.

“We won’t agree with China on everything, but the president firmly believes this is the most consequential bilateral relationship in the world.”

And on China, as you know, the President recently concluded a meeting with President Xi (Jinping) in San Francisco. Good constructive dialogue. We won't agree with China on everything, but the President firmly believes that this is the most consequential bilateral relationship in the world, and it's up to the two of us as two great powers (and both of us as two great leaders). ), to manage this relationship responsibly. .

VOA: The president warned of a “dangerous” situation if a ceasefire is not reached before Ramadan. What did he mean by that? Does it warn of more bloodshed and the possible impact of its regional spread?

Kirby: It refers to the fact that Ramadan is obviously the holiest time of the year for Muslims and also a sensitive time, particularly in the Middle East, where measures take on even greater significance and can have enormous impact. That is why we all want this temporary ceasefire to be established as quickly as possible.

Of course we would have preferred to implement it already. That's not the case, we're still working on it. But we are clear that as we approach Ramadan, any actions taken will be in the context of this holiest time for Muslims around the world.

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VOA: Both Ukraine's First Lady Olena Zelenska and the widow of the late Russian opposition leader Yulia Navalnaya declined invitations to attend Biden's State of the Union address. What message did the administration want to convey by inviting both of them?

Kirby: We respect your wish not to participate, but of course Ukraine is an important partner here. And they have been fighting bravely for just over two years. And certainly this was an opportunity to recognize the United States' commitment to Ukraine and to the struggle, courage and resistance of the Ukrainian people.

Once again we all regret it the death of Alexei Navalny and we all recognize his courage, his bravery and of course we all continue to hold the Kremlin responsible for what happened to him. The President had the opportunity to meet with his wife and sister to express his condolences both personally and on behalf of the entire American people.

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