The election for the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the lower house of Congress, took place on Wednesday night, and the Republican candidate Mike Johnson emerged as the winner.
Johnson is known for his unwavering support for Donald Trump and his opposition to the provision of military aid to Ukraine by the United States.
However, after being elected, he did not speak against providing aid to Ukraine but instead highlighted that it would be given under certain conditions.
This stance has raised concerns in Ukraine and beyond.
In a blitz interview with Valeriy Chaly, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine, Chairman of the Board of the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center (UKMC), Kyiv Post spoke about how Mike Johnson got elected — and much more.
KP: The short saga with the Speaker of the House of Representatives is over. Will the work of Congress become more stable?
VC: The House of Representatives of the US Congress has started working together with the Senate, which is very encouraging news.
One could argue that the USA avoided a significant parliamentary crisis.
But at the same time, the issue of adopting the budget for next year has not yet been resolved.
There may be new serious discussions about certain financing-related decisions. Thus, the Senate and the House of Representatives have already approved the military budget.
They are currently working on the final version of the military budget, which will be submitted to Joseph Biden for approval.
And that's when different scenarios and discussions may occur.
Donald Trump speaks to the press on October 25, 2023 in New York. TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP
How will the appointment of Johnson, a well-known supporter of Trump and opponent of aid to Ukraine, impact US aid to Ukraine? After all, the Speaker of the House of Representatives has the right to block initiatives from the US president.
Regardless of the influence of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the provision of United States assistance to Ukraine, including military-technical aid, is dependent on the President of the United States.
And Joseph Biden has adopted a clear stance. He plans to introduce an aid package to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan and allocate funds to strengthen the US border with Mexico. Of course, after this, it all comes down to the Senate and the House of Representatives.
But there is some positive news. After all, Mike Johnson was elected under certain conditions set by "traditional" Republicans, as we will call them. As part of these conditions, Republicans agreed that Johnson would put the issue of aid to Israel and Ukraine to a vote and allocate funds for other areas. These conditions allowed him to come into this position and have the support of the Republican majority. Therefore, I have no doubts that he will keep these promises.
The only remaining question is the amount of aid that will be provided.
Unfortunately, chances are this amount will be considerably lower than what the White House is currently offering. And there are already voices about the articles that could be used to reduce this assistance.
I think there also will be discussions about how the aid will be given — as a package or there will be a separate vote.
Perhaps it will be a package?
As of now, I have no confirmation that he agreed to a batch vote.
I am sure that funds will be allocated to help Ukraine. But it is difficult to say to what extent and under what additional conditions.
In general, Ukraine already complies with the set conditions. There is an inspector for control of funds appointed by the Pentagon. Finally, mechanisms for monitoring the use of allocated funds were approved. And the Ukrainian authorities are now constantly interacting with the US on this issue.
So, what kind of additional conditions can be set in this case? Hard to tell.
So what about the Lend-Lease?
Regarding Lend-Lease, it's possible that the issue may arise after or simultaneously with the adoption of the US military budget.
As far as I recall, the Lend-Lease issue is the sole issue pertaining to Ukraine that Mike Johnson personally voted in favor of.
In general, Republicans believe that supplying aid through Lend-Lease would be simpler to control than providing financial assistance for purchasing weapons, which currently happens through two programs — FMF and USAI.
Republicans indeed would like to have more control over the use of funds.
Newly elected US House Speaker Mike Johnson is sworn in at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on October 25, 2023. TOM BRENNER / AFP
Given the situation with the Speaker appointment, what conclusions should Ukraine draw? And should we alter something in our communication with the USA?
It is a well-known fact that the pre-election year in the United States is a politically turbulent time. We need a better understanding of the unique aspects of political life in America.
It is obvious that at the official level, we must refrain from supporting any political party.
Therefore, having a good understanding of the internal situation in the US, it is crucial to maintain relationships with various groups, even those who oppose providing weapons to Ukraine. It is also crucial to consider the regional dimension and not limit meetings to the East Coast cities of Washington and New York. Visiting states such as Louisiana, Mississippi, California, or Oregon can be equally valuable.
Additionally, it is worth paying attention to communication with the influential lobby of the US military-industrial complex.
That is, our primary objective is to maintain effective communication with all the significant stakeholders in the United States while refraining from taking any political stance.
Our goal is to foster relationships and establish connections with all parties involved, regardless of future events.
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter