Ukrainian Delegation Meets with US House Speaker

Wednesday, 6 December 2023

A Ukrainian delegation headed by Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) Chair Ruslan Stefanchuk, Defence Minister Rustem Umierov, Andrii Yermak, Head of the Office of the President, and Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the US, has met with Mike Johnson, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

Ukraine’s Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova said on the national 24/7 newscast that the meeting participants discussed US aid for Ukraine and added that the meeting with Johnson was "cordial and productive", giving grounds for cautious optimism.

"However, we’re not yet where we want to be. A new provision relating to the US southern border has been added to the aid package that we expect to be voted on, which includes substantial military, financial and humanitarian aid for Ukraine. This is an internal US issue and remains the hottest and most discussed topic," Markarova explained.

Still, she said, the question of giving arms to Ukraine was no longer a subject of discussion and has received bipartisan support. Markarova added that the issue of providing Ukraine with a large aid package is no longer being raised, and all the previously agreed figures have either remained the same or have been increased in the most recent proposal.

Markarova confirmed US officials’ messages that lawmakers have so far failed to find a compromise on the US southern border.

Democrats in the US Senate unveiled a national security package on Tuesday worth about US$111 billion, which included aid to Ukraine and Israel, as well as measures to secure the southern border with Mexico.

The bill is expected to come up for a first procedural vote on Wednesday, but the path to passing the bill is not easy, as the Republicans are insisting on more aggressive border proposals.

Republicans are demanding stricter entry requirements for immigrants to halt migration, even at the expense of violating US humanitarian obligations, while Democrats are pushing for a comprehensive review of the migration system as such.

Democrats and Republicans held talks in an effort to reach a compromise, but Senator Chris Murphy, the Democrats' top negotiator, told reporters that the talks had broken down because Republicans had refused to back down from the demands. 

In September, the White House asked Congress to approve the US$106 billion supplemental funding package, which includes more than US$61 billion in funding for Ukraine, as well as spending on aid to Israel, Taiwan and border security.

Last week, Johnson said he was "confident and optimistic" that the US Congress would be able to pass additional aid for Israel and Ukraine before the Christmas holidays.

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