Biden to host German chancellor amid Ukraine aid standoff in Congress

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will host German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House on Friday for a bilateral meeting that comes at a critical time, with U.S. aid languishing in Congress as Ukraine battles Russia and as Israel continues its military offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the White House press briefing Thursday that he believes both leaders “will reaffirm their strong support for Ukraine” and discuss “finding a way to continue to help Ukraine.”

“I think they’re going to talk about the Middle East as well and what the situation in Gaza looks like — what together we can do as strong allies to continue to make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself; that humanitarian assistance gets in to the people that need it,” he said.

Kirby also said the two leaders could talk about Houthi attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea. “A lot of that international shipping affects Europe directly,” he said.

Ahead of their meeting, Scholz wrote in an op-ed published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal that “a Russian victory in Ukraine would not only be the end of Ukraine as a free, democratic and independent state, it would also dramatically change the face of Europe.”

“It would deal a severe blow to the liberal world order,” he wrote. “Our message is clear: We have to do our utmost to prevent Russia from winning. If we don’t, we might soon wake up in a world even more unstable, threatening and unpredictable than it was during the Cold War.”

Biden has been calling on Congress for months to pass new aid to Ukraine, as well as to Israel and Taiwan.

On Thursday, the Senate voted to proceed to legislation that would provide financial assistance to those three countries, but it’s unclear if it will have enough support to get through the Senate or for final passage in the House.

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