Biden says he will deliver ‘major’ speech on Ukraine

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he would deliver a “major” speech about funding for Ukraine and “why it’s critically important for the United States and our allies that we keep our commitment.”

The comments came in response to a question from NBC News about whether he was worried about the U.S. being unable to deliver aid to Ukraine due to the disarray on Capitol Hill. The president took questions from the press following his planned remarks on student debt.

“I’m going to make the argument that it’s overwhelmingly in the interest of the United States of America that Ukraine succeed,” Biden said.

Biden argued that the administration’s focus on international coalition building has improved the position of the U.S.

“They’ve strengthened us across the board, not just as it relates to Ukraine, whether it’s Japan and South Korea or whether it’s what’s happening in Europe itself,” Biden said. “And so I think that it’s clear to the vast majority of the foreign policy community on both left and right that this has been a valuable exercise for the United States of America to increase the support we have around the world.”

The Republican Party has become increasingly divided over U.S. aid to Ukraine, and the issue was part of the standoff in the House that nearly led to a government shutdown. The 45-day continuing resolution that averted the shutdown ultimately did not include any new Ukraine aid, to the dismay of many Democrats.

When asked how long the support could continue without additional funding, Biden said that the U.S. can back Ukraine in “the next tranche,” adding that “there is another means by which we may be able to find funding for that.” He declined to go into details on the funding source, as did press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre during the press briefing.

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Jean-Pierre also declined to provide additional information about the president’s speech, though she reiterated that it would be a “major mistake” to walk away from Ukraine.

“What we want to make very, very clear, is that we cannot walk away from our commitment. We cannot,” Jean-Pierre said. “It would be a major mistake.”

Megan Lebowitz

Megan Lebowitz is based in the Washington bureau. She has written about breaking politics news and U.S.-China relations.