U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies at a Senate subcommittee hearing on his department's proposed budget request for fiscal year 2024 in Washington on March 22.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has reassured members of Congress that the billions of dollars already approved for Ukraine should last for much of 2023.
Congress passed a spending bill in December that included $45 billion in new emergency aid for Ukraine.
Blinken, testifying on March 23 before the House of Representatives Appropriations subcommittee, would not say exactly when the administration might need to ask for more funds but said the recent funding "carries us through much of this year." The hearing focused on the State Department's budget request for fiscal year 2024, which is an 11 percent increase over the current fiscal year. Some Republican lawmakers have questioned the amount of money sent to Kyiv, given budget deficits and talk of cuts in U.S. domestic programs. "The budget will sustain our security, our economic and energy and humanitarian support for Ukraine, so that we ensure that President [Vladimir] Putin's war remains a strategic failure," Blinken told members of the committee.
Blinken also told the subcommittee that measures were in place to ensure money sent to Ukraine is well spent. "I have 45 people at our embassy in Ukraine whose job is to oversee the expenditure of these monies," Blinken said. He also addressed concerns that the United States is carrying too much of the burden. Thus far, the United States has committed $32 billion of security assistance for Ukraine, while other countries have committed $22 billion, Blinken said. Washington has provided about $15.5 billion in economic support, while other countries have sent $24 billion, he added. The breakdown on humanitarian assistance is $2 billion sent by Washington and $3.5 billion sent by other countries. "We do have real burden-sharing when it comes to Ukraine," he said, also noting that European countries have taken in about 8 million refugees. Blinken also suggested there was a role for diplomacy in determining Ukraine's future borders but said decisions are for Ukraine to make. While Blinken has dismissed the near-term prospects for peace talks, saying Russia is not serious and would only use a cease-fire to resupply and rearm its forces, he appeared to accept that Ukrainian forces would not be able to win back all their territory on the battlefield. "I think there's going to be territory in Ukraine that the Ukrainians are determined to fight for on the ground; there may be territory that they decide that they'll have to try to get back in other ways," Blinken said. He made the comment in response to a question from Representative Chris Stewart (Republican-Utah), who asked if the United States backed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's goal to take back Crimea. "If our commitment and our agreement with Mr. Zelenskiy is we will support you whatever you want to achieve, including no Russian presence at all in Crimea, then we're asking for a world of hurt," he said. The United States and its European allies have refused to recognize Moscow's illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. Blinken stressed that decisions about Crimea and others regarding territory "have to be Ukrainian decisions about what they want their future to be...in terms of the sovereignty, the territorial integrity, the independence of the country."