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Ukraine live briefing: Biden warns allies that flagging support for Ukraine will embolden Putin to ‘wait us out’

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European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, left, and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba leave a news conference in Kyiv on Monday. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)

President Biden warned that a lapse in U.S. funding for Ukraine “could make all the difference on the battlefield” during a call with allies and partners held Tuesday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told journalists at a news briefing. Biden convened the call with 11 heads of state and representatives days after a short-term funding bill stripped additional aid for Ukraine to avert a government shutdown.

“A lapse in support will make Putin believe he can wait us out, and that he can continue the conflict,” Biden said, according to Kirby. “A strong signal of support now and into the next year will make it clear to Putin that he’s wrong.”

Here’s the latest on the war and its impact across the globe.

On Monday, Foreign ministers of several European Union nations gathered in Kyiv in a meeting that culminated with the E.U. proposing up to 5 billion euros, or about $5.2 billion, in additional aid to Ukraine. It was a stark contrast from recent developments in Washington, where Congress over the weekend passed a short-term funding bill stripped of additional aid for Ukraine to avert a government shutdown. Opposition to U.S. support for Ukraine has grown among far-right Republican lawmakers and some Republican presidential hopefuls, including former president Donald Trump.

Biden has “every expectation” that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will “keep his public commitment to secure the passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment,” Kirby said Tuesday. Later Tuesday, a faction of hard-right Republicans in the House of Representatives ousted McCarthy as speaker over his agreement Friday to a bipartisan deal to avert a government shutdown.

Barring additional funding, the Pentagon has just a few months of support funding left for Ukraine at current spending rates, though the time frame depends in part on battlefield developments, according to Kirby. Since the war began in February 2021, Washington has pledged more than $46 billion in military, humanitarian and financial assistance to Ukraine. “The Pentagon still has several billion dollars in unexpired … drawdown authority,” Kirby said, “but absent additional funding by Congress, eventually you run into a hard stop.”

Russia has no plans to mobilize more troops in Ukraine, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday. “The General Staff is not planning additional mobilization. The Armed Forces have the necessary number of troops for the special military operation,” Shoigu said, using Russia’s term for the war in Ukraine. Russia’s “partial mobilization” last year triggered a mass exodus of fighting-age men, with hundreds of thousands fleeing the country, The Washington Post reported at the time.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke Monday with multiple E.U. foreign ministers about Ukraine’s hopes to join the European Union. “We will implement all recommendations,” Zelensky said, according to an account from the Ukrainian president’s office, referring to seven recommendations that Ukraine received for the start of negotiations for E.U. membership. In his nightly address, Zelensky called Ukraine “a leader in protecting the very foundations on which European unity rests.”

At least two people were killed and seven others were injured in attacks on the region of Kherson, its governor, Oleksandr Prokudin, said on Telegram on Tuesday. He said the strikes targeted populated residential areas and educational institutions, among others.

The city of Kharkiv is planning to build Ukraine’s first underground school to protect against missile threats, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said on Telegram. The northeastern Ukrainian city has already put together 60 classrooms inside its subway stations ahead of the school year, Terekhov said, allowing more than 1,000 children to continue their studies underground.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba expressed confidence that U.S. lawmakers will support Kyiv’s war effort despite the lack of aid in the U.S. government’s latest short-term funding bill. “We are now working with both sides of the Congress to make sure that it does not repeat again,” he said. McCarthy and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) were among the Republican leaders who signaled during television interviews that more aid is in the pipeline.

Mexico’s president called U.S. financial aid to Ukraine “irrational.” In a news conference, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador urged Washington to send resources to help with the economic development of Latin America and to deal with migration issues instead.

Poland’s foreign minister said he did not attend the E.U. meeting in Kyiv in part because of a decline in economic relations between Poland and Ukraine. In an interview with Polish media, Zbigniew Rau explained his absence at the E.U. summit of his counterparts in Kyiv this week, also citing personal ill health. Diplomatic relations between neighboring Poland and Ukraine have frayed in recent weeks over grain exports and visa rights.

Analysis from our correspondents

E.U. diplomats rallied in Kyiv, but cracks are growing in the West’s support of Ukraine: While in Kyiv this week, Europe’s top diplomats were all too aware of the wrangling and bickering in Washington, where a U.S. government shutdown was temporarily avoided after a deal between Democratic and Republican lawmakers stripped out a new tranche of funding for Ukraine’s war effort.

The European officials in Kyiv and their Ukrainian counterparts wanted to show the world — and Russia, in particular — that their unity was intact, Ishaan Tharoor writes.

Natalia Abbakumova and Loveday Morris contributed to this report.

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