Poland warns US House speaker: you're to blame if Russia advances in Ukraine

February 26, 2024 4:10 PM EST

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski attends a joint presse conference with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and French Foreign and European Affairs Minister Stephane Sejourne (not seen) after their Weimar Triangle talks at the Chateau de La

By Jonathan Landay

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski on Monday urged U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson to allow a vote on new U.S. aid for Ukraine, saying Johnson would be to blame if the bill failed and Russia advances on the battlefield.

The senior European diplomat's blunt remarks underscored European fears that conservative House Republicans led by Johnson will block supplies of U.S. munitions that Ukraine urgently needs to hold Russian troops at bay.

Ukraine is running short of personnel and ammunition, especially heavy artillery rounds, and it has lost ground in the east after retaking about half of the territory Russia seized in its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

In remarks to the Atlantic Council thinktank, Sikorski said Johnson "has in the past spoken warmly about Ukraine."

"Therefore I’d like him to know that the whole world is watching what he would do and if the supplemental were not to pass and Ukraine was to suffer reversals on the battlefield it will be his responsibility," he continued.

He was referring to a $95 billion funding bill containing $60 billion in security aid for Ukraine that passed the Democratic-controlled Senate this month in a 70-30 bipartisan vote.

Johnson's office did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The speaker, an ally of former U.S. President Donald Trump, the expected Republican nominee in the November election who opposes more aid for Ukraine, sent the House home on a two-week recess without bringing the measure to a vote.

He told a Feb. 14 party meeting that they would not rubber-stamp the measure being pushed by President Joe Biden, who is expected to face Trump as the Democratic nominee.

Sikorski said he was appealing "personally to Speaker Mike Johnson: please let democracy take its course. Please let's pass this to a vote."

As speaker, Johnson decides what bills are put up for votes. Some Republicans who favor the Ukraine aid say the measure would pass the House if he allowed one.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's "murderous invasion of Ukraine is being aided and abetted by a crime family of dictators," said Sikorski, referring to military aid that Iran and North Korea are providing to Moscow.

Putin's victory in Ukraine, he said, would "invite more thugs onto the world scene, and this will have dire consequences."

(Additional reporting by Anna Koper in Warsaw; Editing by Alison Williams and Josie Kao)

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