Republicans in the United States are growing increasingly sceptical of supplying more aid to Ukraine. with the midterm elections looming, there is some indication that if Republicans win back the majority in Congress, they might cut back on military aid to Ukraine. While it is unlikely that Republicans will completely abandon all support for Ukraine, it is possible that they will roll it back. Republican opposition to lavishly aiding Ukraine became apparent in May this year, when all 57 House votes against giving Kyiv $40 million in aid came from Republican congressmen. Since the May vote, opposition to exorbitantly financing Ukraine has only increased within the ranks of the Republican party.
So far, the United States has supported Ukraine with around $66 billion, including military and humanitarian aid. If the Republicans do win the elections, Democrats are expected to push through a final aid package for Kyiv during the lame-duck period before the other party takes over. Potentially in preparation for this scenario, Biden asked Congress to authorise a $11.7 billion military and humanitarian assistance package for Ukraine that would include ammunition and new weapons as well as intelligence support.
Michael McCaul insisted on increasing oversight and accountability with regard to how the money is being used by Kyiv
Not all Republicans think, however, that aid to Ukraine should be withdrawn. Former Vice President Mike Pence, for instance, expressed disappointment with his fellow Republicans wishing to abandon Ukraine and argued for the continuation of support for the Eastern European country. While Pence is in favour of assisting Kyiv, Kevin McCarthy, who is likely to become the next Speaker of the House, has come out in opposition to writing ‘a blank check to Ukraine’. Michael McCaul, who is likely to chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee if Republicans win in November, insisted on maintaining support for Ukraine but also increasing oversight and accountability with regard to how the money is being used by Kyiv. Republican scepticism about transparency in Ukraine is understandable, especially in light of the Hunter Biden laptop scandal before the last presidential elections that linked the President’s son to Ukrainian interests. The disagreement within the party shows the divide between a group of Republicans who are rather sceptical of Russia, and a group who has embraced Trump’s notion of ‘America first’ and are unwilling to finance other countries while the average American suffers the economic consequences of the war and of the sanctions.
Ukrainian officials expressed their disappointment over Republicans’ hesitation of continuing to assist them. Oleg Nikolenko, spokesperson for Ukraine’s foreign ministry said that Kyiv is counting on the United States’ bipartisan support for Ukraine. Estonian officials and other politicians from the Baltic states also voiced their concern about Republican attitudes towards financing the war. Hanno Pevkur, the Estonian defence minister, spent his visit in Washington D.C. trying to persuade Republicans that funding Ukraine is crucial to maintain the ‘international order’.
While the position of Ukrainian officials is understandable, rolling back aid to Ukraine is something at least part of the Republican electorates that Republican politicians are supposed to serve are in favour of. Numerous Republican leaders have expressed concerns over the economic impact of the war, the sanctions, and Biden’s economic policies. Rising inflation is severely impacting households in the US, which has prompted Republican politicians to argue that their primary responsibility is to support families at home, instead of financing a government abroad.