By Ken Bredemeier
Even with the political control of Congress uncertain Wednesday after nationwide elections, key U.S. lawmakers are vowing continued arms and financial support for Ukraine as it fends off Russia’s invasion, now in its ninth month.
Virginia Senator Mark Warner, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told VOA he is confident there will be continued Democratic and Republican support for the Kyiv government in the new U.S. Congress that takes office in January — regardless of how the final vote-counting turns out. Republicans were edging closer to winning the House of Representatives, but the outcome in the Senate was even more uncertain.
Warner offered his assessment at an event in the Virginia capital of Richmond, where the city took part in an initiative called Ambulances for Ukraine, sending an ambulance filled with medical supplies to the war-torn country.
Two other senators, Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio, made a recent trip to Ukraine where they reassured government officials of the U.S. Congress’ bipartisan support.
Four House members — Republicans Adam Kinzinger and Victoria Spartz, and Democrats Andy Levin and David Price — told VOA in separate interviews they also foresee continued support for Ukraine.
Democratic President Joe Biden, with little congressional review, has sent nearly $20 billion in arms and humanitarian aid to Ukraine since the war started in late February.
But if Republicans take control of the House, Congressman Kevin McCarthy, most likely the new House speaker, told CNN the party’s lawmakers would not routinely rubber stamp new requests for Ukraine aid. Some of the party’s most conservative lawmakers have been calling for an aid cutoff, which could lead to contentious debates over new Biden requests for more Ukraine spending.
“I’m very supportive of Ukraine,” McCarthy said. “I think there has to be accountability going forward. … You always need, not a blank check, but make sure the resources are going to where it is needed. And make sure Congress, and the Senate, have the ability to debate it openly.”
Mykola Davydiuk, a political analyst based in Kyiv, told VOA it matters little to Ukrainians which political party controls Congress, just that the flow of assistance continues.
“We don’t have favorites or the party that we would like it to win,” Davykiuk said. “I am more than convinced the support will remain. We are not only good friends, but we are also partners with common values. We are both on the side of Western democracy and fight against autocracy and dictatorship.”
But another Ukrainian political analyst, Volodymyr Fesenko, said Republican control of either or both houses of Congress could prove problematic.
“We can face a problem if a Republican majority emphasizes their opposition and takes a more critical look at the budget proposals of the Biden administration,” Fesenko said. “As they have already said, ‘No more blank checks.’ They will try to have more control over the budget process and control the spending.”
Officials in Moscow, Reuters reported, do not expect U.S. aid to Ukraine to be cut if Republicans take control of either chamber of Congress.
“A Republican victory in the U.S. congressional elections will not lead to a revolution in U.S. foreign policy and an end to Washington’s support for Ukraine,” Alexei Pushkov, a hawkish Russian senator and foreign policy specialist, wrote on the Telegram messaging service.
“However, the Biden administration will find it more difficult to push financial aid programs to Kyiv through Congress, and the position of U.S. critics of unlimited aid to Ukraine will markedly strengthen,” he said.
VOA Eastern Europe Chief Myroslava Gongadze contributed to this report from Kyiv.