Ukraine’s foreign minister warns ‘time is running out’ to pass funding deal for aid

(NEW YORK) — Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has warned that “time is running out” for Congress to pass a new funding deal for more military aid for Ukraine.

The Biden Administration and House Republicans have not reached a broader funding agreement, which would include an additional $60 billion in security assistance for Ukraine’s war effort.

In an interview with ABC News, Kuleba claimed more money for Ukraine would potentially avoid a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia, in which American troops would be forced to intervene.

“Whatever the price of supporting Ukraine is now, the price of fixing the mess in the world if Ukraine loses will be much, much higher,” he said.

He also warned the United States and its allies about the type of signal a Russian victory in Ukraine would send to other adversaries.

“If the West is not able to stop Russia in Ukraine, who else is it able to stop in other parts of the world?” Kuleba asked.

However, Kuleba vowed that Ukraine would never give in to Russia.

“Even if we run out of weapons, we will fight with shovels,” he told ABC News during an interview in the Ukrainian capital, “Because what is at stake here for Ukraine is the existence of this nation.”

Pressed on the notion that one day Ukraine would have to negotiate with Russia, Kyiv’s top diplomat ruled out any negotiations with the Putin regime until Ukraine finds itself in a much stronger position on the battlefield.

He conceded the Russian military had “learned their lessons” and was now “far better adapted to this war” but predicted “more defeats” for Russia this year.

Russian forces have become more assertive on the battlefield in recent weeks, gaining small areas of territory in eastern Ukraine around the embattled city of Avdiivka.

However, Ukraine’s foreign minister claimed those “minimal” Russian gains came at “an extremely high price” and he rejected the notion that Russia now has the momentum on the battlefield.

Ukrainian soldiers have told ABC News that Russia’s superior firepower and quantity and quality of lethal, exploding drones are making the war harder and more deadly for Kyiv’s forces.

Kuleba admitted that the war was “difficult” but rejected the notion that Russian President Vladimir Putin was now looking stronger after Ukraine’s failed counteroffensive in the summer.

“Hitler pretended to be very strong for many years and we all know how it ended,” Kuleba said.

As the Republican primary season gets underway, Ukraine’s foreign minister said he didn’t want Ukraine to be featured prominently in American election debates, adding, he hoped Ukraine would be “an issue that unites, not divides.”

Republican frontrunner former President Donald Trump has indicated he would halt aid to Ukraine.

Asked whether he was worried about the prospect of a second Trump presidency, Kuleba insisted that Ukraine is “not afraid of anything” and said his country would not meddle in the U.S. election, something Russia stands accused of doing in the 2016 vote.

In recent months, Ukraine has continually launched explosive drones at targets inside the internationally recognized borders of Russia.

Kuleba refused to comment directly on these attacks, however, he hinted that Kyiv was trying to show that the war in Ukraine was having an adverse impact back home, in Russia.

“President Putin must explain to his people why all of this is happening,” he said.

“I think it’s helpful to force them [Russian residents] from time to time to realize that the reality outside of their TV is different and can be much, much worse than their propaganda.”

ABC News has seen evidence that components made by Western and American companies are being used in missiles that Russia has launched against Ukraine.

Ukraine’s foreign minister called on those companies and the U.S. government to do more to prevent those components from being sold to Russia via indirect and sometimes opaque trading routes.

Kuleba conceded that there was “no obvious solution” but hinted that “business channels can be disrupted” because “financial intelligence” can “pretty easily” reveal the routes the components take and claimed measures could be taken “through very thorough, daily work.”

A report last week by the U.S. Defense Department’s inspector general found that around a billion dollars worth of U.S. military items sent to Ukraine were not properly logged and tracked by U.S. officials.

Kuleba promised the American public that “everything you give to us is used for the best purpose of ending this war with Ukraine’s victory as soon as possible.”

Investigations by the U.S. and the European Union have uncovered no evidence that Western military aid sent to Ukraine has been misused.

“Every attempt by Russia to disinform the world about (the) alleged leak or illicit traffic of U.S. weapons into other parts of the world… turned out to be fake,” Ukraine’s foreign minister added.

“So don’t believe in fakes, believe in Ukraine,” Kuleba concluded.

 

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