Western leaders seek to ease Ukraine funding fears as Russia says army ranks are full

Moscow claims more than 335,000 people have volunteered to join military this year

US president Joe Biden has called western leaders to discuss “our ongoing support for Ukraine” amid funding disputes in Washington, as Russia claimed it had no need to mobilise more men for its invasion because some 335,000 had signed up to fight this year.

“President Biden convened a call this morning with allies and partners to co-ordinate our ongoing support for Ukraine,” the White House said on Tuesday, days after the US Congress approved a temporary government spending bill that did not include aid for Kyiv.

Mr Biden spoke to the leaders of Germany, France, Britain, Poland, Canada, Japan, Italy and Romania, and the heads of Nato, the European Commission and European Council.

“He assured us that support for aid given to Ukraine continues, especially military aid. He said he would secure this support in Congress,” Polish president Andrzej Duda said.


The office of British prime minister Rishi Sunak said that on the same call he “outlined the UK’s ongoing military, humanitarian and economic assistance to Ukraine and stressed that this support will continue for as long as it takes”.

The White House asked Congress for another $24 billion (€23 billion) for Ukraine, but some Republicans would only back an emergency bill last Saturday to avert a government shutdown, which included no more aid for Kyiv. The US federal government reportedly has about $6 billion left in military funding for Ukraine.

“We have enough ... to meet Ukraine’s urgent battlefield needs for a bit longer but it’s not the long-term solution,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said on Monday.

Kyiv’s forces began a counteroffensive in June but have made only slow progress against Russian troops in southeastern Ukraine that have laid vast minefields and built complex lines of fortifications since occupying the area 18 months ago.

Ukraine has liberated a handful of destroyed and almost deserted villages in the area, and near the occupied city of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region, while combating Russian efforts to retake parts of the northeastern Kharkiv province.

“The enemy’s attempts to break through our defences in the areas of Verbove and Robotyne in the Zaporizhzhia region have failed,” Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday.

“The general staff has no plans for additional mobilisation. The armed forces have the necessary amount of service personnel to conduct the ‘special military operation’. This is largely thanks to the resolute patriotic stance of our citizens, who are actively joining the ranks of the defenders of the fatherland,” he added, using Russia’s official term for its invasion.

“Since the start of the year, more than 335,000 people have entered military service under contract and in volunteer formations,” he said. “In September alone, more than 50,000 citizens signed contracts.”

Ukraine said it shot down 29 of 31 attack drones and one cruise missile fired by Russia early on Tuesday. Russian officials accused Kyiv of firing a cluster bomb at a village in the border region of Bryansk; they offered no evidence, and Kyiv has pledged to only use the US-supplied munitions against Russian troops on Ukrainian territory.

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin is a contributor to The Irish Times from central and eastern Europe