The White House has said that President Putin could win the war in Ukraine if US

 aid dries up during an evening of stark warnings as Congress tries to agree on fresh funding.

“Congress has to decide whether to continue to support the fight for freedom in Ukraine... or whether Congress will ignore the lessons we've learned from history and let Putin prevail,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters on Monday.

“It is that simple. It is that stark a choice.”

President Joe Biden's budget director, Shalanda Young, said in a blunt letter to Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson that if military assistance dries up it would “kneecap” Kyiv's fight against the Russian invasion, AFP reports.

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Democrat Biden asked Congress in October for a huge $106 billion national security package including military assistance for Ukraine and for Israel's war against Hamas, but the funding has been mired in divisions on Capitol Hill.

“There is no magical pot of funding available to meet this moment. We are out of money -- and nearly out of time,” wrote Young.

“Cutting off the flow of US weapons and equipment will kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield, not only putting at risk the gains Ukraine has made, but increasing the likelihood of Russian military victories.”

Ukraine has been desperately pushing for more Western aid as Russian forces step up attacks in the winter after Kyiv's counteroffensive stalled over the summer.

Grenade Thrown at Army Recruitment Centre in West Ukraine
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Grenade Thrown at Army Recruitment Centre in West Ukraine

No one was injured in the incident. The facade and windows of the building were damaged, the regional police service said.

But Congress has been paralyzed for months by Republican infighting, with hard-right lawmakers particularly opposing any further assistance for Kyiv as the war drags into its third year.

Democratic US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would speak on Tuesday via secure video link to a classified closed-door briefing for senators.

Schumer appealed to all senators to attend the briefing “so we can hear directly from him precisely what's at stake in this vote.”

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Speaker Johnson, who took office in October after his predecessor was ousted in a right-wing coup, gave the White House letter a cool response.

“The Biden administration has failed to substantively address any of my conference's legitimate concerns about the lack of a clear strategy in Ukraine,” Johnson said on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday.

Johnson also repeated the Republicans' insistence on tying any Ukraine aid to changes in US policy on the southern border with Mexico, as the number of migrant arrivals surges.

Casting Putin and Hamas as twin forces trying to “annihilate” neighboring democracies, Biden has sought to tie $61 billion for Ukraine with $14 billion for Israel in the aid package he demanded in October, along with funding for the border.

For his part, Schumer said the “judgment of history will be harsh indeed” if Congress failed to act.

“You can bet Vladimir Putin is watching. Hamas is watching. Iran, President Xi, North Korea -- all our adversaries, they are watching closely.”

Ukraine's front line has largely remained static for the last year despite a massive push by Ukrainian forces this summer with Western military hardware.

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The United States has already allocated $111 billion for Ukraine since Russia invaded in February 2022, including $67 billion for military procurement, Young said.

European countries are also facing challenges in securing funding for Ukraine as fatigue with the war sets in.

Fears are growing in Washington that Putin may be content to sit out the situation until next year's US presidential election, a probable replay of 2020's contest between Biden and former president Donald Trump.

Polls show a growing number of voters saying the United States is doing too much to help Kyiv.

“I think my expectation is that Putin won't make peace or a meaningful peace before he sees the result of our election,” a senior State Department official told reporters last week.

The official would not say why but Moscow is widely seen as favoring a return by Trump, who has praised the Russian leader and questioned US aid for Ukraine.

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