Zelensky's Deadline Prompts US House Speaker to Support Ukraine Aid Despite Opposition

Zelensky's warning of Ukraine's imminent collapse without US aid spurs House Speaker Johnson to secure $60B in military support, bolstering Ukraine's defense against Russia.

Ebenezer Mensah
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Zelensky's Deadline Prompts US House Speaker to Support Ukraine Aid Despite Opposition

Zelensky's Deadline Prompts US House Speaker to Support Ukraine Aid Despite Opposition

In December 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered a sobering message to US House Speaker Mike Johnson, stating that without further American aid, Ukraine's ability to withstand Russia's renewed offensive of missiles and drones would last only "until March or April." This meeting played a significant role in Johnson's decision to go against his conservative colleagues and secure a $60 billion aid package for Ukraine.

According to Politico sources, Zelensky reportedly told Johnson that Ukraine could hold out without additional US military aid until March or April 2023, after which they would run out of weapons. This 'deadline' provided by Zelensky contributed greatly to Johnson's decision to hold a vote on the foreign aid package, despite opposition from hardline Republican members like Congressman Mike Johnson.

Johnson's national security adviser, Josh Hodges, also reportedly advised him that aiding Ukraine was a 'cost-effective' way to counter the growing alliance between Russia, China, and Iran. Hodges played a vital role in preparing the legislation and advocating for sending aid to Ukraine, arguing that not doing so would weaken America's standing and empower its adversaries.

After his conversation with Zelensky, Johnson decided to support the aid by the deadline and instructed Hodges to prepare a corresponding bill. The US House of Representatives subsequently voted in favor of the bill on April 24, 2023, with 311 members voting in support and 112 against. All 'against' votes came from Republicans.

Why this matters: The approval of the $60 billion Ukraine aid package, which includes long-range missiles, artillery shells, and other military equipment, is vital for Ukraine's ongoing defense against Russian aggression. The US support also sends a strong message to Russia and its allies about America's commitment to standing with Ukraine.

President Joe Biden signed the bill into law on April 23, paving the way for $1 billion in military aid, including long-range ATACMS missiles, to be sent to Ukraine. The US also confirmed that it had transferred these missiles to Ukraine as part of a $300 million aid package in March 2023. Zelensky's warning provided Johnson with a deadline, which the Speaker took on as his own for the Ukraine aid package, managing to meet it with just over a week to spare.

Key Takeaways

  • Zelensky warned Ukraine could only withstand Russia until Mar/Apr 2023 without more US aid.
  • This warning convinced House Speaker Johnson to secure $60B in Ukraine aid despite GOP opposition.
  • Johnson's national security adviser argued aiding Ukraine was cost-effective to counter Russia, China, Iran.
  • The $60B aid package, including long-range missiles, was vital for Ukraine's defense against Russia.
  • Biden signed the aid bill into law, enabling $1B in military aid, including ATACMS missiles, to Ukraine.