US military aid for Ukraine 'vital' for US credibility -Ukrainian official

FILE PHOTO: A view of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington.
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. military aid to Ukraine, blocked by Republican leaders in Congress, is needed to provide a bridge until European nations can ramp up their own defense production, a senior Ukrainian official said on Thursday.

Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine's deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, said it was critical to U.S. credibility to provide such aid and if it withdrew from its leadership role it would take time to develop European capacity.

Mike Johnson, the Republican speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, has refused to schedule a vote on an emergency spending bill that includes $60 billion in aid for Ukraine, much of it for Kyiv to buy U.S. weapons and military equipment.

"If we're speaking (about) this year, the decision on military support for Ukraine is vital for the credibility of the United States as ... the major player of the global arena," Stefanishyna said in a video appearance from Ukraine with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank.

U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has backed military aid to Ukraine since Russia's full-scale invasion in 2022, while his likely Republican opponent in the Nov. 5 U.S. election, former president Donald Trump, has a more isolationist streak.

Without naming Trump, a Republican who opposed the $60 billion aid for Ukraine, Stefanishyna alluded to the possibility Washington may abandon its post-World War Two role in seeking to protect Western Europe against aggression by Moscow.

"The U.S. has been the major military power of the global arena and disengagement from that also requires a transition, if this decision is taken," she said, saying Washington had been the "major guarantor of the peace" in the last 75 years.

"You cannot change the reality ... within one day," she said. "That requires a transition, and that requires a transition to build a stronger European capacity."

(Reporting By Arshad Mohammed and Jonathan Landay; Writing by Arshad Mohammed; editing by Diane Craft)