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But are there still chances for new aid to Ukraine?

Ukrainian President Zelensky has warned that without further US help, his country will lose the war. Republicans in the US Congress have been blocking an aid package for months. But now the debate is moving.

Ralf Borchard

There are plenty of appeals to finally initiate new aid for Ukraine – including from the US Congress. Representative Tom Suozzi has just returned from a visit to Ukraine. “It is absolutely urgent,” he emphasized on radio station NPR and called the situation in Ukraine “desperate.”

Suozzi is a Democrat. But the problem in the House of Representatives is the Republicans. After all, its chairman Mike Johnson promised during the Easter break that he would soon have a vote on the Ukraine issue in the form of a new legislative package.

Military aid as loans?

The key point: Ukraine should only receive loans and pay back the billions to the USA. “Even President Trump has already mentioned this loan concept,” Johnson said on Fox News television. He also discussed using frozen assets of Russian oligarchs for Ukraine's fight against Russia. “That would be pure poetry,” he enthused. And Johnson named a third element with which he wants to lure opponents of Ukraine aid: At the same time, more US liquefied natural gas exports would have to be approved.

That, according to Johnson's calculations, would be a Republican victory over President Joe Biden, who is slowing down here for environmental reasons. Besides, such exports would benefit Johnson's home state of Louisiana.

Loud resistance and shaking of the head

But the protest from within their own ranks came immediately, led by the shrillest voice of the right-wing Republicans: Marjorie Taylor Greene. She ranted on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon's podcast: “If Mike Johnson actually believes that his Republican caucus will approve $60 billion for Ukraine, he's a damn idiot.” Greene once again threatened to overthrow Johnson with a vote – an approach that already brought down his predecessor Kevin McCarthy.

However, there are numerous Republicans who are really annoyed by the right-wing rebels and who are convinced of the need for new aid to Ukraine. Mike Turner, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said on CNN that many on the right-wing fringe of the party were buying into Russian propaganda. “To the extent that this propaganda takes hold, it becomes more difficult to see the whole thing for what it is: a battle of democracy against authoritarianism,” said Turner. “We have to stand up for democracy. An authoritarian regime like Putin's will never stop on its own once it begins aggression. Ukraine needs our support now.”

The timing of the vote is still open

Is Mike Johnson really putting a new relief package on the ballot this week or – more likely – not until May, June or July? If the far-right wing of the Republicans tries to topple Johnson, will the Democrats help keep him in office? All open questions.

The Republican strongman in the background, Donald Trump, is silent on a new Ukraine aid package to Johnson's liking. Trump's attitude is likely to be the deciding factor in the end. Although he is not even officially a presidential candidate yet, Trump is already significantly influencing US politics – and thus also the fate of Ukraine.

Ralf Borchard, ARD Washington, tagesschau, April 9, 2024 3:14 p.m

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