February 19, 2024 – Russia-Ukraine news

US Speaker of the House Mike Johnson speaks at the US Capitol on February 15 in Washington, DC.
US Speaker of the House Mike Johnson speaks at the US Capitol on February 15 in Washington, DC. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

US House Speaker Mike Johnson is facing international criticism over his lack of swift action on Ukraine aid, which is ratcheting up pressure to make a critical decision that will not only have massive implications for his rookie speakership but also for Ukraine’s ongoing war effort against Russia.

So far, Johnson has resisted calls to bring a Senate-passed aid package up for a quick vote — a move that would require Democratic support and almost certainly spark a revolt from his right flank, something Johnson is eager to avoid. The speaker has said the legislation, which includes over $60 billion in assistance for Ukraine, would not pass in its current form, and privately told Republicans during a closed-door meeting last week there is “no rush” to address the issue, with Congress since having left town for a nearly two-week recess.

The stakes of the high-profile debate — and Johnson’s pivotal role in a legislative response — came into even greater focus over the weekend. Global leaders gathered at the annual Munich Security Conference just as news broke that Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny had died in prison, while Ukraine suffered a significant setback to Russian forces on the battlefield.

Those developments have injected a new sense of urgency for Congress to act as the second anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine approaches this weekend and as the Ukrainian military warns it is running out of resources to resist.

While there is a contingent of House Republicans who support additional Ukraine aid and it has majority support from the chamber as a whole, Johnson has to manage a rambunctious right flank that is deeply resistant to additional aid. Further complicating matters, the Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has also injected himself into the debate, urging Republicans to oppose Ukraine funding and continuing to rail against NATO.

Here’s more about the House speaker and Ukraine aid.


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