President Joe Biden on Thursday seized on recent comments from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy calling into question future Ukraine aid, framing the position as undermining the US role – and leadership – in an increasingly volatile world.
“They said that if they win, they’re not likely to fund – to help – continue to fund Ukraine, the Ukrainian war against the Russians,” Biden said at a fundraiser in Philadelphia for Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman, according to the press pool. “These guys don’t get it. It’s a lot bigger than Ukraine – it’s Eastern Europe. It’s NATO. It’s real, serious, serious consequential outcomes. They have no sense of American foreign policy.”
Earlier in the day, as Biden and Fetterman dropped by a Primanti Bros. sandwich shop near Pittsburgh, he similarly told reporters of future aid: “Yeah I am worried about that because they said they’ll cut it.”
Biden in his remarks – which came days after the Republican leader warned that Kyiv can’t expect a “blank check” for aid in future – sought to broaden the implications of Republican opposition or reluctance, tying it to palpable concerns from America’s allies that the US was receding from its role on the world stage after Donald Trump and saying it raised the stakes for the midterm elections and beyond.
On Friday, Biden told reporters he didn’t understand GOP suggestions that aid for Ukraine could end if Republicans take control of Congress.
“If we support Ukraine, we’re supporting all of Europe. We’re supporting NATO. If you think that Mr. Putin decides he’s just going to deal Ukraine, and that’s the end of it?” Biden said.
“I don’t understand the threat that they’re saying they may have to stop funding the Ukrainians in their war against this brutal dictator,” he added.
He highlighted the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol – and the GOP’s response to it – as an element driving anxiety for America’s allies.
“These guys on the other team don’t get it. They don’t get it that how America does is going to determine how the rest of the world does,” the President said, according to the pool. “They look to us as a leader. They look to us … because they’re not as big or as powerful.”
The world, he said, “is looking at this election as well, both the good guys and the bad guys out there, to see what, they want to see what’s going to happen.”
The Biden administration last week authorized an additional $725 million in security aid for Ukraine, as the country recovers from Russia’s recent barrage of missile attacks on civilian targets. The additional assistance brought the total US military aid to Ukraine since January 2021 to more than $18 billion, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
CNN’s Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.