Home » Russian loans and assets sold, the Republicans’ options for giving aid to Kiev

Russian loans and assets sold, the Republicans’ options for giving aid to Kiev

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Russian loans and assets sold, the Republicans’ options for giving aid to Kiev

WEST VIRGINIA. “No one wants Putin to win and it is my opinion that he will not stop at Ukraine if he has the opportunity to march on Europe.” These words were uttered by Mike Johnson, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, from the “retreat” of the Republicans in White Sulfur Springs in West Virginia on Wednesday afternoon.

Johnson explained that he supported support for Kiev and US aid. He explained his position in an articulated way, but when he learns from La Stampa, the road that leads to the release of aid is now open. However, it does not mean that the green light from the House will arrive soon, much less that it will arrive following the plan of the Senate which has launched a 95 billion package of which 60 for the defense of Kiev and the replenishment of the Pentagon’s arsenal.

The Republicans, explain some sources from West Virginia, are studying other options. Johnson has been in constant contact with the Senate and also with the White House for weeks. Twenty days ago he had a private discussion with Biden in the Oval Office after the congressional leadership meeting with the president and his national security advisors. Era presents William Burns, director of the CIA, who explained the situation on the field.

Mike Johnson, Speaker since October 26, a member of Louisiana with Italian origins, has always been in favor of supporting Kiev but asked, as did his predecessor Kevin McCarthy before him, that this aid be tied to a precise strategic plan. And they do not become a tool to fuel an endless conflict. «We asked the Administration some questions – he said – which now after months still have no answer». The questions, simplified by Johnson, are: «What is the end? What strategy? How do we track and who is responsible for the funds we send? Are we sending the right weapons systems?”. Months later, he complained, there is no answer.

However, the House’s obstructionism does not arise only from this communication gap with the House. Johnson also mentioned the “Supplemental Bill” on Security which provides funds for Ukraine also linked to an increase in funds for strengthening the border with Mexico. According to the Republican leader, it was the White House’s idea to tie them together.

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However, despite the claims, there is important work going on behind the scenes. Senators and Johnson’s staff as well as the Republican leadership are looking for options. What is clear is that the House will not dismiss the Senate’s text as is. We are working on changes. Or even to propose a new one containing only aid to Ukraine (and perhaps a second dedicated to Israel).

One of the Republicans’ requests is to burden the pockets of US taxpayers as little as possible: there are two options under study, the first is to provide aid in the form of loans; the second instead follows the pattern of asset freezing. It arises from an action taken by Congressman McCaul, one of the conservative leaders on security and foreign policy, who suggested, as done in the past, to use Russian assets, sell them immediately and direct the harvest to Ukraine. The reference is to assets in America.

It is an assist for Biden himself who is pushing for the asset freeze but requires two conditions: the first is the support of the Europeans, where the ECB and the French are primarily sceptical; the second is legislative protection. And this could come via the route indicated by McCaul. Johnson said it is an “avenue we can explore” and that he “does not understand why it was not included in the resolution passed in the Senate.”

Johnson could also bring the amended Senate text to the vote very quickly, leveraging a procedural tactic that requires the consensus of two-thirds of the chamber. That is, the law would pass in a bipartisan format with the decisive Democrats. It would not be the first time. Conservative MPs from the Freedom Caucus would be cut off. But obviously, first of all, a total understanding with the Democrats would be needed.

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In short, work is underway behind the scenes, something has moved in the House on the Ukraine front. The majority of Republican deputies are in favor of continuing with the aid but the methods (for now however there is no question of how many billions) are divided.

There is no certainty about the timing either. Johnson wants the budget with the various provisions for individual agencies to be approved first. The date is March 22nd. From then on we will be able to focus – at least in the chamber – on Ukraine. “The Senate had four months to vote on the law, and they ask us to do it in a week,” said the Speaker, claiming the time necessary for the Chamber to do a good thing.

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