Blinken team insists Ukraine policy won’t change due to GOP midterm victories

US Ukraine
Secretary of State Antony Blinken tours the Ukrainian Institute of America on the Upper Eastside in Manhattan on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in New York. He is joined by U.S. United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, second from right, Ukrainian permanent representative Sergiy Kyslytsya, third from left, Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova, send from left, and Sofika Pysanky, left. (Andrea Renault/Pool via AP) Adnrea Renault/AP

Blinken team insists Ukraine policy won’t change due to GOP midterm victories

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A potential Republican takeover of Congress will not constrain President Joe Biden’s policy of assistance to Ukraine, according to a senior U.S. diplomat.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s team, like all diplomats, makes a point not to comment on domestic political developments. Yet Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who leads the U.S. mission to the United Nations, couldn’t avoid the repeated questions on Tuesday about how U.S. foreign policy might change as a result of the midterm elections that are expected to give the Republicans a majority in the House and perhaps the Senate.

“Yes, Ukrainians and others have asked with the election if that will have any impact, if there’s a change if that will have any impact on our support,” Thomas-Greenfield told reporters in Kyiv.

“And what I’ve said to Ukrainians and I’ll say here: We’ve seen bipartisan support for Ukraine. The president is committed to continuing to work with the Congress to ensure that that support continues.”

The extent of that support has come under question as the midterm elections approached, in part due to statements from prominent House Republicans. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who has a reputation for endorsing QAnon conspiracy theories, declared that “under Republicans, not another penny will go to Ukraine” during a recent rally with former President Donald Trump.

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“The only border they care about is Ukraine, not America’s southern border,” she said. “Our country comes first. They don’t care about our border or our people.”

That policy preference is to be expected, given that Greene has echoed Russian government allegations that NATO supports “neo-Nazis in Ukraine,” but House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican likely to emerge as the next House speaker, struck a more measured note while stipulating that Republicans will not approve “a blank check” for Ukraine.

“I’m very supportive on Ukraine,” McCarthy told CNN this week. “We should supply the weapons to Taiwan early so China would not invade, make the world a safer and more secure place. And that’s why I think you always need not a blank check but make sure that resources are going where it’s needed and make sure that Congress and the Senate have the ability to debate it openly.”

Nevertheless, leading Senate Republicans have signaled their confidence that it is in America’s interest to provide Ukraine with major supplies of U.S. military equipment.

“The announcement of the annexation of four Ukrainian territories is just another attempt by Putin to save face as Russia loses its unjust and brutal war against Ukraine,” Sen. James Risch of Idaho, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in September when Russian President Vladimir Putin laid claim to several partially occupied Ukrainian territories. “I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to ensure Ukraine receives the tanks, drones, and air defense it needs to end this war fast.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) struck a similar tone more recently. “We will continue to support Ukraine with the kind of military aid that only the U.S. can provide,” Cotton said last week. “Some of our European partners can provide some military support, but really there are some systems only America can provide.”

Thomas-Greenfield maintained that she has no doubt about Washington’s posture toward Ukraine over the coming months.

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“We have been unified from day one [and] we’ve not seen any cracks in that unity,” she told CNN during an interview in Ukraine. “Europe is unified. NATO is unified. We’ve had bipartisan support in the United States for support for Ukraine. Our support is unwavering, and we will continue to be unified until Ukraine wins this war and Russia takes their troops out of Ukraine.”

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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