Biden Says Putin on 'Balls of His Heels' as Ukraine Aid Dries Up

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(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden expressed concern to donors that Ukraine’s allies were stepping back from their support for the country at a critical time in its war to repel Russia’s invasion.

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Biden said during a fundraiser in New York City on Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin “is on the balls of his heels.”

“And what are we doing? Stepping back?” Biden added.

The president’s comments came hours after the Senate voted to block a bipartisan deal on border security and immigration that would have unlocked over $60 billion in US assistance for Ukraine. Former President Donald Trump, the GOP frontrunner, urged congressional Republicans to reject the deal.

Lawmakers are negotiating a scaled down package that would eliminate the immigration provisions and include aid for Ukraine and other US national security priorities but that approach faces opposition in the Republican-controlled House.

Biden has warned that Ukraine is at a critical point in the war with the country’s supplies of ammunition and weapons dwindling and fighting expected to intensify this spring.

“The United States is viewed as — we are the essential nation,” Biden said Wednesday. “If the United States steps out of events, what happens.”

“What happens then in the Middle East,” Biden continued. “The Taiwan Straits? What happens in Asia? What happens with Ukraine?”

The president is welcoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to the White House on Friday, where the two leaders are expected to discuss additional support for Kyiv. Putin, meanwhile, sat earlier this week for an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, where he is expected to further court US conservatives skeptical of providing assistance to Ukraine.

Biden spoke at a fundraiser hosted by Willett Advisors LLC Chief Executive Officer Steve Rattner, with attendees including actor Robert De Niro.

Earlier: Rattner, Goldman Alum Linden to Host Biden NYC Fundraisers

Rattner’s Willett Advisors invests Michael Bloomberg’s personal and philanthropic assets. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

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