Biden Likens Failure to Grant Ukraine Aid to ‘Criminal Neglect’

(Bloomberg) -- US President Joe Biden warned of dire consequences if lawmakers failed to approve additional aid for Ukraine as he met Friday with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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“The failure of the United States Congress, if it occurs, not to support Ukraine is close to criminal neglect,” Biden said Friday at the White House. “It is outrageous.”

In the US, additional assistance for Kyiv has been held up by a domestic dispute over border policy and immigration. A breakthrough bipartisan deal on the border that unlocked $60 billion in aid for Ukraine collapsed this week after former President Donald Trump, the GOP frontrunner, urged his party’s lawmakers to reject it and hold out for more concessions on immigration.

The White House has backed a Senate plan to move aid for Ukraine, Israel and other US allies separately but that path faces opposition from hardline Republican conservatives in the House. Biden said Congress needed to pass a supplemental funding package for national security priorities quickly.

Scholz on Friday expressed hope that lawmakers would deliver. “Hopefully the House will follow you and make the necessary decision on support,” he said.

Earlier: Scholz Warns US of Growing Risk of Putin Victory in Ukraine

The chancellor’s visit comes at a critical time as Ukraine’s war to repel Russia’s invasion nears its two-year mark. Russia has spent the winter months targeting critical energy and industrial infrastructure but as the weather warms this spring, fighting is expected to intensify. US officials have warned that Ukraine’s dwindling stocks of weapons and ammunition will mean that Kyiv must make tough decisions on the battlefield.

The European Union pushed through a €50 billion ($53.8 billion) aid deal for Ukraine last week. Scholz helped secure the EU deal, swaying Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban who blocked the aid for months.

The chancellor also mocked what he characterized as a “ridiculous interview” from Russian President Vladimir Putin, which he said spread “lies about this war.”

While Scholz did not mention former Fox News host Tucker Carlson by name, the conservative commentator posted an interview on Thursday he conducted with Putin, the first time the Russian leader had given an interview to a western media figure since ordering the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Much of the two-hour conversation was devoted to Putin repeating his long-standing criticisms of the US and its allies and controversial views on the history of Ukraine and Russia.

Earlier: Putin Takes Hard Line on Ukraine in Tucker Carlson Interview

The Israel-Hamas war and broader Middle East tensions also loom large for Biden and Scholz’s agenda. The US sees Germany as a voice for Israel’s right to defend itself after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, a group designated a terrorist organization by the US and EU, but also as an advocate to encourage Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to limit civilian casualties in Gaza and help ramp up humanitarian aid.

The meeting will also set the stage for a summit of North Atlantic Treaty Organization leaders that Biden is slated to host in Washington from July 9-11. Scholz has called Germany the “central hub” for NATO in Europe and pledged to expand his country’s defense spending.

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