Top US general warns Ukraine on brink of being overrun by Russia

WASHINGTON — The tenacity of Ukrainian troops will soon be no match for Russia’s manpower and missiles should U.S. lawmakers fail to approve additional security assistance for Ukraine, the top American general in Europe told lawmakers, part of a stark warning about the direction of the more than two-year-old conflict.

U.S. military officials have warned repeatedly in recent weeks that Russian forces have been able to make incremental gains in Ukraine and that without renewed U.S. backing, Ukraine’s forces will eventually falter.

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday, the commander of U.S. European Command described the battlefield in blunt terms.

“If we do not continue to support Ukraine, Ukraine will run out of artillery shells and will run out of air defense interceptors in fairly short order,” said General Christopher Cavoli, explaining that Kyiv is dependent on the United States for those key munitions.

“I can’t predict the future, but I can do simple math,” he said. “Based on my experience in 37-plus years in the U.S. military, if one side can shoot and the other side can’t shoot back, the side that can’t shoot back loses.”

Cavoli also said the failure of U.S. lawmakers to approve a $60 billion supplemental security package is already giving Russia a significant advantage.

“They [Ukraine] are now being outshot by the Russian side 5-to-1,” he told lawmakers. “That will immediately go to 10-to-1 in a matter of weeks.

“We are not talking about months. We are not talking hypothetically,” Cavoli said.

Multiple U.S. officials have warned that Ukraine’s military has been forced to ration artillery and air defense capabilities as Kyiv waits for U.S. lawmakers to approve the supplemental assistance.

“We are already seeing the effects of the failure to pass the supplemental,” Assistant Secretary of Defense Celeste Wallander told the panel, testifying alongside U.S. European Command’s Cavoli.

“We don’t need to imagine,” she said, blaming the lack of U.S. provided artillery for why “the Russian attacks are getting through.”

That supplemental defense package passed in the U.S. Senate back in February, but leadership in the House of Representatives has so far refused to bring the legislation to the floor for a vote.

During a press conference on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Republican House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson said lawmakers were continuing to “actively discuss our options on a path forward.”

“It’s a very complicated matter at a very complicated time. The clock is ticking on it, and everyone here feels the urgency of that,” Johnson said. “But what’s required is that you reach consensus on it, and that’s what we’re working on.”

House Democrats, however, have voiced frustration with Johnson’s refusal to call a vote.

“The House has waited months now to approve the security package to help protect Ukraine,” said Representative Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. “Weeks ago, we were too late. And now every day is at an extreme cost to our ability to deter Russia.”

Another Democrat on the committee, Representative Elissa Slotkin, scolded Johnson, saying he needs to call a vote despite opposition from a small group of House Republicans.

“We do need to get it over the finish line,” she said. “I accept that he’s at risk of losing his job over that choice, but that’s what leadership is — it’s the big boy pants and making tough choices.”

Some Republicans, though, chastised Democratic lawmakers for what they described as misguided priorities.

“We’ve got hundreds of thousands of Americans who are dying, fentanyl overdoses, child and human sex trafficking, not to mention 178-plus countries that are crossing our border,” said Republican Representative Cory Mills.

“But, oh wait, that’s not the priority. Let’s secure Ukraine’s borders,” he said.

VOA’s Katherine Gypson contributed to this report.

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