In late November, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed the country's 2024 budget, which forecasts expenditures of 3.35 trillion hryvnias (about $911 billion), nearly half of which is allocated for defense. However, Ukraine's expected revenue for 2024 is only 1.77 trillion hryvnias, leading to a projected budget deficit of 1.57 trillion hryvnias. The plan relies on 47.4% (about $431 billion) of the 2024 expenditures to come from loans and aid from other countries and international organizations.
Before Zelensky signed the budget, U.S. President Joe Biden urged Congress to pass a $110.5 billion security assistance bill, including $60 billion in new aid for Ukraine. The EU also plans to provide Ukraine with 50 billion euros (about $53.87 billion) in aid from 2024 to 2027.
However, both aid plans have encountered obstacles. The U.S. faces difficulties in passing new aid for Ukraine before the end of the year, and the EU is still striving to reach a consensus on the budget at next week's EU summit.
On December 6, the U.S. Senate rejected the $110.5 billion security assistance bill with a vote of 51 against and 49 in favor. All 49 Republican senators voted against it, along with Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders, who opposed the bill's $14 billion aid to Israel. The bill needed 60 votes to pass in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, changed his vote from favor to against, following procedural rules to allow for a future vote on the bill.
Even if the bill passes the Senate, it is expected to face opposition in the Republican-controlled House. Republican calls to halt aid to Ukraine are growing. Before Wednesday's vote, the White House twice urged Congress to pass the security funding bill, but to no avail.
The $110.5 billion security assistance bill includes $50 billion in security aid for Ukraine, about $10 billion in government funding, and humanitarian aid for Ukraine. However, as the Russia-Ukraine conflict continues, U.S. voters' attitudes toward supporting Ukraine have shifted.
A Gallup poll published last month showed that 41% of voters believe the U.S. is doing too much for Ukraine, up from 29% in June. Only 33% think the U.S. assistance to Ukraine is appropriate, down from 43% in June. Among Republicans, 62% believe the U.S. is doing too much for Ukraine, a sentiment that is growing among Republican and independent voters.
As the 2024 election approaches, Congressional Republicans are aligning with voter sentiment on Ukrainian aid. Republicans also see this as an opportunity to force the Biden administration to compromise on immigration, demanding stricter controls on migration at the U.S.-Mexico border. The $110.5 billion aid bill includes $20 billion related to U.S. border security.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, an ally of former President Trump, has called on the Biden administration to "help America first" before aiding other countries. He made it clear that there would be no agreement to help other countries until the border issue is resolved.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, has demanded the Biden administration reduce migration at the U.S.-Mexico border in exchange for Congressional support for aid to Ukraine.
In response to Republican threats, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned on Tuesday that if Congress does not approve aid to Ukraine and Ukraine is defeated in the conflict, the U.S. should be held responsible.
Zelensky was scheduled to address the U.S. Senate online on Tuesday to emphasize the importance of U.S. aid to Ukraine. However, due to Senate infighting, his speech was canceled, and Republicans left the Senate debate early that day.
The Kiel Institute for the World Economy's aid database for Ukraine shows that since the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the U.S. has been Ukraine's largest single donor. From January 24, 2022, to October 31, 2023, the U.S. government committed to providing Ukraine with aid worth 71.4 billion euros (about $76.9 billion), with 43.9 billion euros in military aid. The EU institutions and member states committed to providing 133.2 billion euros in aid, mostly for humanitarian assistance and financial support.
The struggle between U.S. political parties has already impacted the new aid bill for Ukraine. From August to October this year, new aid commitments to Ukraine fell to 2.1 billion euros, a nearly 90% decrease from the same period last year.
Biden criticized Congressional Republicans for "holding hostage" U.S. government aid to Ukraine to achieve their own goals but also indicated he has not given up. He said he is willing to make "significant compromises" on border issues and continues to seek ways to resolve the deadlock. Assisting Ukraine against Russia to weaken Russian power is one of the Biden administration's key foreign policies. The U.S. government will not cut off aid to Ukraine while Biden remains president, but the intensity may be reduced due to domestic disputes in the U.S.
In the EU, aid to Ukraine has also become a bargaining chip for member states to pursue their own interests.
The EU will hold a summit from December 14 to 15, and the European Commission intends to urge member states to reach a consensus on aid to Ukraine before the summit. The EU plans to provide Ukraine with 50 billion euros in aid from 2024 to 2027, plus an additional 20 billion euros in weapons purchase assistance.
Ukraine obtained EU candidate status last year, and the European Commission last month recommended that the EU Council start accession negotiations with Ukraine. EU member states will discuss whether to accept the Commission's recommendation at next week's summit. All 27 EU member states must unanimously agree for the EU to start accession negotiations with Ukraine.
Hungary has openly opposed this. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban wrote to European Council President Charles Michel on Monday, requesting that next week's summit not decide on starting accession negotiations with Ukraine and providing aid to Ukraine.
Orban believes Ukraine does not meet the conditions to start accession negotiations, and starting negotiations now would "contradict the interests of many EU countries." Regarding Orban's opposition to EU aid to Ukraine, some EU officials believe this move is to pressure the EU to unfreeze 22 billion euros in funding for Hungary.
Last year, the EU accused Hungary of regressing in the rule of law and announced the suspension of 22 billion euros in funding, including 5.8 billion euros in COVID-19 recovery funds. Officials revealed that the European Commission might unfreeze 10 billion euros in funding for Hungary.
Other EU officials told Reuters that if Orban continues to refuse to compromise on Ukraine's accession negotiations at next week's summit and member states cannot reach a consensus on aid to Ukraine, the EU may hold another summit early next year.