Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday told attendees at the Munich Security Conference that Republican leadership backs continued aid to Ukraine as it fights off a Russian invasion, despite voices within his party opposing continued assistance.
"Reports about the death of Republican support for strong American leadership in the world have been greatly exaggerated," he said. "My party’s leaders overwhelmingly support a strong, involved America and a robust trans-Atlantic alliance. Don’t look at Twitter, look at people in power."
The Kentucky senator pointed to himself, as well as Speaker or the House Kevin McCarthy and top Republicans on the Senate and House committees.
"Republican leaders are committed to a strong trans-Atlantic alliance. We are committed to helping Ukraine. Not because of vague moral arguments or abstractions like the so-called ‘rules-based international order.’ But rather, because America’s own core national interests are at stake. Because our security is interlinked, and our economies are intertwined.
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The U.S. has been the top contributor to the Ukrainian war effort since the Russian invasion a year ago, giving more than $110 billion in financial, military, and humanitarian aid to the U.S. ally. That includes more than $27.4 billion in security assistance.
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In January, the U.S. announced additional security assistance, including approval by President Biden of 31 Abrams M1 tanks to Ukraine.
But there have been indicators of growing hesitancy among some Republicans. McCarthy said in November that Republicans wouldn’t write a "blank check" for Ukraine. A relatively small but vocal group in the House has opposed the continued aid and called for it to stop.
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Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and 10 co-sponsors introduced the "Ukraine Fatigue Resolution" this month, which calls for the U.S. to "end its military and financial aid to Ukraine and urges all combatants to reach a peace agreement."
The resolution lists the enormous amount of equipment that the U.S. has provided to the country since the beginning of the conflict. It also cites Pentagon officials who have said the munitions have "severely depleted United States stockpiles, weakening United States readiness in the event of conflict."
Gaetz, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the U.S. has been the top contributor to what he called an "everlasting conflict."
"America is in a state of managed decline, and it will exacerbate if we continue to hemorrhage taxpayer dollars toward a foreign war," he said. We must suspend all foreign aid for the War in Ukraine and demand that all combatants in this conflict reach a peace agreement immediately."
There have also been dissenting voices in the Senate. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., expressed concern this week that pouring support into Ukraine will hurt America's ability to defend against aggression from China.
"Some of the world’s wealthiest nations are our allies in Europe. But right now, we’re the only ones doing the heavy lifting. In fact, we’ve sent more weapons to Ukraine than all of Europe has, combined. And those choices are weakening us in the one place — the Pacific — where we require strength," he said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation. "The Uniparty’s way is not sustainable. It is a path to failure."
Meanwhile, an AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll published this week showed that 48% of those polled support providing weapons to Ukraine, down from 60% in May 2022.
McConnell appeared to reference the risk that U.S. support could wilt, and said that European allies need to step up, arguing that "European countries have not been uniformly generous to Ukraine."
"If you want to help Ukraine win; if you want NATO to emerge stronger from this conflict; and if you want sustained political support in America for our staying engaged and invested in maintaining a Europe that is whole, free and at peace . . . then America’s friends on this continent must mirror the resolve and reciprocate the commitment that you hope to see from us," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.