Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the current dispute in Congress over funding for Ukraine, which continues to wage a war against Moscow, is in the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I think Putin is not only excited about the disagreement over whether and to what extent we continue to fund Ukraine. I think he’s stoking it too,” Clinton said in an interview with PBS Newshour that aired Tuesday.
While Clinton acknowledged that most lawmakers still support continued U.S. support for the war-torn country, she also noted the “partisan political divide” on the issue.
“Frankly, I don’t understand Americans siding with Putin, but we’ve seen it and heard it, and we have to fight it,” Clinton added.
In August, President Joe Biden asked Congress for an additional $24 billion for Ukraine.
But the ouster of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as speaker on Tuesday and uncertainty over who might replace him have added to uncertainty about whether and when those funds will ultimately reach Kyiv.
McCarthy passed a deal with Democratic support over the weekend to keep the government open, but it excluded aid to Ukraine, a point of contention for many right-wing GOP members.
Biden said Sunday he expects McCarthy to fulfill his “commitment to safe passage and the support needed to help Ukraine.” That enraged Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who accused the California Republican of cutting a “side deal” with the president to allow a vote on more military aid to Ukraine and later introduced a resolution seeking a vote of no confidence to force McCarthy.
Although McCarthy denied the existence of such a deal, he was voted out on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Biden called U.S. allies, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, to reiterate that the U.S. remains committed to helping Ukraine defeat Russia .
John Kirby, the National Security Council’s strategic communications coordinator, reiterated Clinton’s warnings about the Russian president on Tuesday, telling reporters at the White House that Putin himself would interpret a delay in transferring assistance to Ukraine as a sign he can “up.” Wait for us.”
Kirby added: “A strong signal of support now and next year will make it clear to Putin that he is wrong here, too, just as his assumptions have been wrong throughout the conflict.”
Ahead of McCarthy’s ouster, Kirby also expressed confidence that Congress would ultimately approve the Ukraine package, saying the majority of Republicans supported it.
“There are a small number of very vocal members – a small minority of vocal members who oppose this, but they don’t represent their party,” Kirby said. “They don’t represent their leadership.”