White House warns of funding crisis in war against Russia in Ukraine

Ukrainian soldiers pass by a bus burning after a Russian drone hit it near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023. [AP Photo/Shandyba Mykyta]

In a starkly worded appeal to the leaders of Congress, the Biden White House warned Monday that US funding of the proxy war against Russia in Ukraine has been largely exhausted and will end entirely unless Congress acts before the end of this month. 

The result would be catastrophic for US efforts to inflict a defeat on Russia and President Vladimir Putin, Shalanda Young, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, wrote. A cutoff of US aid would “kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield, not only putting at risk the gains Ukraine has made, but increasing the likelihood of Russian military victories.”

The administrative measures taken as a substitute for congressional funding, such as transferring Pentagon weapon stocks directly to the Ukrainian military, had reached their limit, the letter declared: “without congressional action, by the end of the year we will run out of resources to procure more weapons and equipment for Ukraine and to provide equipment from U.S. military stocks. There is no magical pot of funding available to meet this moment.”

The failure of the US government to maintain its military and financial aid to Ukraine would make it far more difficult to pressure NATO allies and other countries to continue with their own lesser programs of similar support to the proxy war with Russia. In any case, “While our allies around the world have stepped up to do more, U.S. support is critical and cannot be replicated by others.”

Young sent the letter to Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, Democratic House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

She was at pains to call out the benefits of the Ukraine war funding for the US military-industrial production—in the jargon of the Pentagon, the “Defense Industrial Base,” or DIB. Of the $111 billion already spent on the war in Ukraine, “$67 billion, approximately 60 percent of the Ukraine supplemental funding that Congress has previously authorized, has bolstered our DIB in America or supported DOD and intelligence operations. That has improved our own military readiness,” because old US equipment shipped to Ukraine and expended in battle has been replace by new equipment built in US factories and sent to Pentagon stockpiles.

“The President’s most recent national security supplemental request will build on our successful efforts to date and will direct over $50 billion into our nation’s DIB, which builds on the funding that has already been invested in manufacturing lines across 35 states.”

Young went to list a whole series of military products and the states where they were produced, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. Most of these states have Republican congressmen or senators whose campaigns benefit directly from campaign contributions from the arms industry. (All Democrats in Congress are already on board with the Biden administration’s special funding request.)

The main obstacle to passage of the Ukraine supplemental funding has been opposition in the Republican-controlled House, where the Republican leadership is holding up passage, partly to extract concessions on immigration policy, and partly because a section of the party wants additional military spending to go towards funding Taiwan and other measures to prepare for war with China, rather than pouring further sums into the stalemated conflict against Russia in Ukraine.

Johnson tweeted Monday, “The Biden administration has failed to substantively address any of my conference’s legitimate concerns about the lack of a clear strategy in Ukraine, a path to resolving the conflict, or a plan for adequately ensuring accountability for aid provided by American taxpayers. … Meanwhile, the administration is continually ignoring the catastrophe at our own border.”

On CNN’s “State of the Union” program on Sunday, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said, “I will not vote for any aid until we secure our border. I’m not helping Ukraine until we help ourselves.”

The military position of the Zelensky regime in Kiev is worsening day by day, as Russian positions are reinforced and strengthened, while Ukrainian positions become more precarious.

Based on interviews with Ukrainian front-line soldiers, the New York Times cited complaints of dwindling ammunition supplies and inadequate preparations to meet an expected Russian counter-offensive in the winter.

The Washington Post published a lengthy two-part analysis of the failure of Ukraine’s summer offensive (originally labelled a spring offensive), which laid out the position of the Pentagon and portrayed the disarray within the camp of US imperialism and its allies and clients caused by the unexpectedly stout resistance of Russian troops and the high level of fortification and equipment supplies on the part of the Russian military.

Citing numerous problems in the organization of the offensive, particularly the conflicts between the Pentagon and the Ukrainian high command, the Post wrote: “all these factors make victory for Ukraine far less likely than years of war and destruction. The campaign’s inconclusive and discouraging early months pose sobering questions for Kyiv’s Western backers about the future…”

The underestimation of Russian defenses was revealed in the struggle for Robotyne, the first target in the offensive south toward Melitopol, which required 12 weeks rather than four days, and cost tens of thousands of Ukrainian lives and a colossal amount of tanks, armored vehicles and other equipment supplied by the US and NATO.

According to the Post: “By day four, Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s top commander, had seen enough. Incinerated Western military hardware—American Bradleys, German Leopard tanks, mine-sweeping vehicles—littered the battlefield. The numbers of dead and wounded sapped morale.”

Its conclusion: “In all, Ukraine has retaken only about 200 square miles of territory, at a cost of thousands of dead and wounded and billions in Western military aid in 2023 alone.”

The newspaper cited frequent complaints from the Ukrainian side that no NATO power would launch a military offensive without first establishing air superiority.

“You want us to proceed with the counteroffensive, you want us to show the brilliant advances on the front line,” Olha Stefanishyna, deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine, told the Post.

“But we do not have the fighter jets, meaning that you want us to throw our soldiers, you know, and accept the very fact that we cannot protect them.” When allies said no, she said, “we heard ... ‘We are fine that your soldiers will be dying without support from the sky.’”

Washington is quite willing to fight to the last Ukrainian in order to weaken the Putin regime in Russia and set it up for destruction through an intensification of US-NATO intervention to carve up the country and make its vast trove of natural resources available for exploitation by the imperialist powers.