President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz sat in the Oval Office on Friday to discuss the war in Ukraine as China considers arming Russia and Republicans cut back on US aid to the war-torn country.
The US and Germany have worked closely together to provide Ukraine with military and humanitarian aid. But there has also been friction over things like supplying tanks, and Washington has occasionally grown frustrated with Berlin’s hesitation.
Biden thanked the German leader for his country’s support.
President Joe Biden met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the Oval Office
“You came forward to provide critical military support. And I would say that beyond the military support, the moral support you have given the Ukrainians has been profound. Profound,” the president said.
And he acknowledged their last meeting at the White House just over a year ago, before Russia invaded Ukraine.
“A lot has happened since last year, we have a lot to talk about,” he said.
Scholz said he appreciated the opportunity to meet.
“This is a very, very important year because of the dangerous threat to peace posed by Russia invading Ukraine,” he said.
The two leaders were expected to discuss meetings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky over the past month — Biden when he traveled to Kiev two weeks ago and Scholz when Zelensky traveled to Paris in early February — and his requests for more military aid.
Zelensky’s arms request stems from concerns that China will arm Russia with artillery and drones to aid its invasion, providing Moscow with much-needed supplies as it faces equipment shortages.
White House spokesman John Kirby said the US doesn’t believe China has decided to send arms to Russia — at least not yet — “but we don’t believe they’ve taken it off the table.”
The US has expressed concern to China, warning that sending arms to Russia “is not in their best interest,” Kirby said at the White House press conference on Thursday.
Olaf Scholz was last in the White House in February 2022 (above) just after becoming chancellor and before Russia invaded Ukraine
He also said the United States will announce a new round of military aid to Ukraine on Friday, using “ammunition and ammunition that the Ukrainians will need for the systems they already have, such as the HIMARS and the artillery.”
But questions have been raised about what else is on the agenda, given the low-key nature of the trip: Scholz had no traveling press with him, the two leaders are not holding a joint press conference, and the Germans announced the trip all at once. release line.
The White House meeting comes as concerns grow in Europe about how long a united front of support for Ukraine will last, especially with the upcoming presidential election in the United States and Republicans pushing for US aid cuts.
In addition, House Republicans have pledged to scrutinize and monitor the more than $112 billion in military and economic aid that the Democrat-controlled Congress approved last year.
Ukrainian soldiers fire a grenade from a towed howitzer FH-70 in the front line with Russia
Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene has pushed for an audit of US military and economic aid to Ukraine — a move with strong GOP support.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the US has sent a wide variety of weapon systems across the pond, including hundreds of anti-tank missiles, kamikaze drones, and various anti-armor munitions.
There are also signs that Western allies are becoming hesitant to send more money to Ukraine, fearing that their people will lose interest in the conflict.
Washington and its allies pressured Germany to supply Leopard tanks to Ukraine – a move Scholz agreed to after the US promised to send their Abrams tanks. There is concern that advanced weapons may not be useful to Ukraine due to the high maintenance requirements and extensive training to operate them.
Biden eventually sent 31 Abrams tanks and Germany agreed to provide 14 Leopard 2s.
“We wanted to make sure we were all together,” Biden said.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan suggested Biden send the hardware to placate the Germans.
In the interest of alliance unity and to ensure that Ukraine got what it wanted, despite the fact that the Abrams are not the tool they need, the president said, “OK, I’m going to be the leader of the free world. I’ll send Abrams down the road if you send Leopards now,” Sullivan told ABC News. “And this is actually an example of Joe Biden assembling the global coalition to give Ukraine what it needs.”
Biden and Scholz last met at the White House in February 2022, shortly after Scholz took office as chancellor and before Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine. They have since met in Europe – mostly at meetings of NATO and G7/G20 leaders.
President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will discuss their recent meetings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky – Biden (top left) during his trip to Kiev a few weeks ago and Scholz (top right) with French President Emmanuel Macron when Zelensky was in Paris in early February