Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, said on Sunday that the United States needs to accept that Ukraine must ‘cede some territory’ to Russia and that American leadership must ensure the U.S. is ‘not writing more blank checks’ to fund Kyiv’s forces ahead of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to Washington, D.C., this week.
‘We can’t make strategic decisions based on stark morality tales. We have to figure out what is in America’s best interest,’ Vance said Sunday during an appearance on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’ ‘We have a food crisis that’s getting worse because of the prolonged war in Eastern Europe. We have an energy crisis that’s threatening to swamp multiple allied governments in Western Europe. What’s in America’s best interest is to accept Ukraine is going to have to cede some territory to the Russians, and we need to bring this war to a close. When I think about the great human tragedy here, hundreds of thousands of eastern Europeans, innocent, have been killed in this conflict. The thing that’s in our interest and in theirs is to stop the killing.’
‘On the Ukraine question in particular, everybody knows everybody with a brain in their head … knows that this was always going to end in negotiation,’ Vance added. ‘The idea that Ukraine was going to throw Russia back to the 1991 borders was preposterous. Nobody actually believed it. So what we’re saying to the president and really to the entire world is you need to articulate what the ambition is. What is $61 billion going to accomplish? That $100 billion hasn’t reached.’
‘Ukraine is functionally destroyed as a country. The average age of a soldier in the Ukrainian army right now is 43. That’s tragic. That’s older than me. I’m 39,’ Vance told host Jake Tapper, who later disagreed with the ‘age graphic’ but told viewers he himself is 54 years old. ‘If this thing goes on a little bit longer, the average age of a Ukrainian soldier is going to be older than you,’ Vance continued. ‘And then a year later, could be Wolf Blitzer. That is a tragedy. What does it look like?’
Regarding America’s role in the conflict, Vance said, ‘We are getting to a place where we’re going to be functionally on the hook to pay for Ukrainian pensioners to rebuild the entire country. We need to bring the killing to a stop. And that’s what American leadership should be doing, not writing more blank checks to the war.’
Zelenskyy will meet with President Biden at the White House on Tuesday as the administration steps up the pressure on Congress to provide billions more in aid to Kyiv in its war with Russia. The visit is intended ‘to underscore the United States’ unshakeable commitment to supporting the people of Ukraine as they defend themselves against Russia’s brutal invasion,’ the White House said in a statement Sunday. ‘As Russia ramps up its missile and drone strikes against Ukraine, the leaders will discuss Ukraine’s urgent needs and the vital importance of the United States’ continued support at this critical moment.’
Zelenskyy’s office confirmed that he had accepted Biden’s invitation. He also has been asked to speak to a meeting of all senators.
Biden has asked Congress for a $110 billion package for wartime funding for Ukraine ($61.4 billion) and Israel, along with other national security priorities, but the request is caught up in a debate over U.S. immigration policy and border security. Congress already has allocated $111 billion to assist Ukraine, and Biden’s budget director, Shalanda Young, said in a letter this past week to House and Senate leaders that the U.S. will run out of funding to send weapons and assistance to Ukraine by the end of the year, which would ‘kneecap’ Ukraine on the battlefield.
‘It’s time to cut a deal that both sides can agree to,’ Young said Sunday.
The stakes are especially high for Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during two TV interviews Sunday, given that ‘we are running out of funding’ for the Ukrainians. ‘This is a time to really step up because if we don’t, we know what happens. Putin will be able to move forward with impunity and we know he won’t stop in Ukraine.’
The Associated Press contributed to this report.