President Joe Biden echoed the warnings of his defense secretary in an address to the public this week, saying if Congress does not pass $64 billion in aid to Ukraine, U.S. troops will end up fighting Russia in Europe.
“This cannot wait. Congress needs to pass supplemental funding for Ukraine before they break for the holiday recess. It’s as simple as that,” Biden began.
He then accused skeptical Republicans in Congress of being “willing to give Putin the greatest gift he could hope for and abandon our global leadership not just to Ukraine, but beyond that.”
He argued that Putin has committed atrocities against Ukrainian civilians and that Russian forces are committing war crimes.
“It’s as simple as that. It’s stunning. Who is prepared to walk away from holding Putin accountable for this behavior? Who among us is really prepared to do that?”
He then argued that if Putin succeeds in taking Ukraine, “he’s going to keep going.”
“If he keeps going and then he attacks a NATO Ally — well, we’ve committed as a NATO member that we’d defend every inch of NATO territory — then we’ll have something that we don’t seek and that we don’t have today: American troops fighting Russian troops.”
He repeated, “American troops fighting Russian troops if he moves into other parts of NATO.”
He then sought to shame anyone who did not want to pass more aid.
“Make no mistake: Today’s vote is going to be long remembered. And history is going to judge harshly those who turn their back on freedom’s cause,” he said.
He said supporting Ukraine is “in our overwhelming national interest” and in the “international interest of all our friends.”
He faulted “extreme Republicans” for “playing chicken with our national security” and “holding Ukraine’s funding hostage to their extreme partisan border policies.”
He claimed that he supported “real solutions at the border,” and that he has already put forward a “comprehensive plan” the first day he came into office. He also said he would change policy as well, but it was not clear what those changes would be.
Biden said if the U.S. did not support Ukraine, it would affect the U.S.’s allies and embolden “would-be aggressors.”
He said if the U.S. walks away, its European friends will not continue to fund Ukraine.
“This is too serious. And like I said, I am willing to make significant compromises on the border. We need to fix the broken border system. It is broken. And thus far, I’ve gotten no response,” he said.
He claimed that Republicans demanded that he accept their proposal, which he called “extreme — or nothing.”
“In the meantime, the ‘nothing’ means we don’t get any support for our friends and our — the innocent people of Ukraine,” he said.