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Biden renews Ukraine aid plea as Czech PM visits

Ukraine War: — © AFP/File
Ukraine War: — © AFP/File

US President Joe Biden made a fresh plea to Congress to pass aid for Ukraine during a visit by the Czech prime minister Monday, as a fight brews about whether it should be linked to funds for Israel.

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson said Sunday he aims to advance wartime aid to Israel this week following Iran’s weekend attack, but the White House says it will block any bill that contains nothing for Kyiv.

“Congress has to pass continued funding” for Ukraine “and they have to do it now,” Democrat Biden said as he hosted Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala at the White House.

“There’s overwhelming support in the House and Senate if people will just let a vote take place.”

Biden hailed the Czech leader as a “great ally” for his strong support for Ukraine since Russia’s 2022 invasion, including securing nearly one million rounds of ammunition for Kyiv as US funding dries up.

“As the Czech Republic remembers, Russia won’t stop in Ukraine and the impact on NATO would be significant. Putin’s going to keep going, putting Europe, the United States and the entire world at risk if we don’t stop him,” Biden said.

After shaking hands with Biden in the Oval Office, Fiala thanked the US president for his leadership in mustering Western support of Kyiv.

“In 1968 I was a little boy, I saw Russian tanks on the streets of my town and I don’t want to see this again,” he said.

US assistance has languished in a divided Congress, with Johnson — an ally of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump — blocking an earlier $95 billion in aid sought by Biden for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, which had passed the Senate.

The White House ruled out any bill that only contained aid for Israel.

“We will not accept a standalone. A standalone would not help Israel and Ukraine,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told a briefing.

Johnson is walking a knife-edge on aid for Ukraine, as Trump and far-right lawmakers in the House of Representatives have grown skeptical of pouring billions of dollars into Kyiv’s fight against Russia’s invading forces.

Ukraine has in recent months grown increasingly frustrated at delays in Western aid, including air defenses it says are urgently needed to repel deadly Russian attacks.

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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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