(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden reassured allies US support for Ukraine would continue, seeking to ease worries after a government funding bill omitted $6 billion in aid.
Biden told nearly a dozen foreign leaders in a Tuesday telephone call that the US would stand by Ukraine “as long as it takes as it defends its sovereignty and territorial integrity, with fellow leaders echoing their commitments,” the White House said in a statement.
Biden was joined on the call by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, President Andrzej Duda of Poland, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni of Italy and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House said in a statement.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna also participated in the call, according to the White House.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that Biden requested the call with foreign leaders and was not “pressured” to have a conversation. The president told his counterparts that US resolve for providing more aid remains “strong,” Kirby added.
“None of the foreign leaders expressed concerns about continued US support. They understand what’s going on up on Capitol Hill. They understand that this is a small minority of extreme Republicans that are holding this up, and that they understand that the bulk of Republican leadership — House and the Senate — all support Ukraine,” Kirby said.
Plans for the call were first reported by Bloomberg News. It took place before House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted by dissidents within his own Republican Party, injecting new uncertainty into the White House quest for more help for Ukraine as it continues to battle the Russian invasion.
Biden on Saturday signed a short-term funding measure from Congress to keep the US government open until Nov. 17 and avoid a shutdown — but the quickly passed bill failed to include additional aid for Kyiv. The move was a blow to both Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who just last month visited Washington to personally plead for continued assistance.
Duda said Tuesday that Biden brushed aside the maneuvering on Capitol Hill and said support for additional Ukraine aid remains bipartisan.
“The support is much greater than it appears in the media coverage,” Duda said, characterizing Biden’s comments. “In his opinion, everything should be fine.”
Kirby said both issues are “important” but that the White House did not believe they should be tied together.
“Time is not our friend. We have enough funding authorities to meet Ukraine’s battlefield needs for a bit longer, but we need Congress to act to ensure that there is no disruption in our support,” Kirby said.
--With assistance from Natalia Ojewska.
(Updates with ouster of McCarthy, in seventh paragraph.)
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