The Irish Times view on support for Ukraine: the US finds a way to vote through a vital package

Ukraine’s dependence on outside aid is underlined by the vote and the EU is also under pressure to increase its military assistance

The US House of Representatives’ weekend vote approving a $95 billion military aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan has unlocked a critical arms shortage in Ukraine’s battle against Russian advances. That is welcomed by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, although it may only delay rather than reverse Ukrainian setbacks, unless more European military assistance comes soon.

Ukraine’s dependence on outside aid is underlined by the vote, which overcame continuing Republican opposition to such a foreign policy commitment ahead of November’s US presidential elections. While the EU passed a big package of financial support last month, the shape of European military support for Kyiv is similarly uncertain.

Mike Johnson, the House Speaker, changed his mind on Ukraine after hearing intelligence reports on how much military pressure Ukraine is now under. That led him to break from his sceptical Republican colleagues. Without US aid, he said, “I think that Vladimir Putin would continue to march through Europe if he were allowed. I think he might go to the Baltics next. I think he might have a showdown with Poland or one of our (other) Nato allies.”

Although the bill passed with Democratic support, Johnson defended his own approach because “it provides for greater accountability over Ukraine aid and forces an endgame strategy for the Ukraine war.”


These are important elements of US policy, though it remains to be seen if they lead to military aid being linked to peace negotiations as an alternative. In the short term, if Putin’s intentions are what Johnson fears, Europe too must also work to increase military aid to Ukraine.

Discussion of a diplomatic route forward had been set back by Russia’s advances while US and European military aid faltered this year; now that it is being restored it may in time allow more attention to be paid to how the fighting might be brought to an end. For now the priority will be to support Kyiv.

Political uncertainty attends US policy on Ukraine, Europe and other world regions in this election year. Mike Johnson’s break with Republican right-wing isolationists may yet imperil his speaker role if Donald Trump turns against him. Trump’s hostile attitude to Nato and the European Union goes alongside his uncritical support for Israel on Gaza. The future direction of US policy will be unclear until well after the election.

Europe, too, awaits political change in the European Parliament elections and a new European Commission to follow. The EU’s political leadership grapples with the urgent need to support Ukraine militarily alongside a similar uncertainty about the political endgame of the war to that in Washington. These are potential tipping points for both sides of the transatlantic relationship.