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Officials Say US Must Assist ‘Besieged’ Ukraine and Provide Military Aid to Israel

by | Nov 8, 2023

Officials Say US Must Assist ‘Besieged’ Ukraine and Provide Military Aid to Israel

by | Nov 8, 2023

erin elizabeth mckee

Officials from the State Department and USAID pressed Congress to pass a $105 billion spending package that will provide weapons to Ukraine and Israel. One Biden administration official said it was crucial to provide aid to Kiev because “The besieged people of Ukraine are …fighting for basic needs, such as food, water, medicine, and electricity.”

Erin McKee, Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia at USAID, told the committee on Wednesday, “The besieged people of Ukraine are fighting for their country’s survival as a democratic state. They are also fighting for basic needs, such as food, water, medicine and electricity.”

The statement is striking as it more accurately reflects the situation facing Palestinians living in Gaza over Ukrainians. After a Hamas attack in southern Israel on October 7, Tel Aviv maintained a complete siege of Gaza. Only a small amount of food, water, and medicine has trickled into the enclave. Additionally, communications and electricity have been cut off by Israel. 

Still, McKee and other Biden administration officials who testified at the hearing called for providing $14 billion in military aid to Israel. The aid for Tel Aviv would be a part of a larger spending package that includes $61 billion in assistance for Kiev, funds for the military buildup in the region surrounding China, and billions of dollars to spend on securing the US southern border. 

The USAID official described passing the bill as important as the current funding allocated to Ukraine has nearly been exhausted. McKee said aid distributions would have to be cut to 75% soon. 

James O’Brien, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that “Ukraine is winning. It’s already taken back half the territory Putin has seized since February of 2022,” he said. 

In September, the New York Times reported that Russia had captured more territory than Ukraine in 2023. Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Gen. Valery Zaluzhny recently acknowledged that the war had reached a stalemate that Keiv is unlikely to win. 

The State Department official attempted to portray the military aid as benefitting the American economy. Senator Rand Paul pushed back, however, saying the money would only serve to enrich weapons makers. 

Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of Antiwar.com and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

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