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    Republican opponent of U.S. aid to Ukraine argues his case at Munich Security Conference

    Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, speaks to reporters at the Munich Security Conference, outside the Bayerischer Hof Hotel in Munich, Germany, Feb. 18, 2024. Photo via Reuters

    MUNICH (AP) — A Republican opponent of new U.S. funding for Ukraine argued at an international security conference Sunday that the package stuck in Congress wouldn’t “fundamentally change the reality” on the ground and that Russia has an incentive to negotiate peace.

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and others have advocated passage of the $60 billion in aid at the Munich Security Conference, which coincided with Ukraine withdrawing troops from the eastern city of Avdiivka after months of intense combat.

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    But Sen. JD Vance, an Ohio Republican and ally of Donald Trump, said “the problem in Ukraine … is that there’s no clear end point” and that the U.S. doesn’t make enough weapons to support wars in eastern Europe, the Middle East and “potentially a contingency in East Asia.”

    House Speaker Mike Johnson insists he won’t be “rushed” into approving the $95.3 billion foreign aid package from the Senate that includes the help for Ukraine, despite overwhelming support from most Democrats and almost half the Republicans.

    If the package goes through, “that is not going to fundamentally change the reality on the battlefield,” Vance argued, pointing to limited American manufacturing capacity.

    “Can we send the level of weaponry we’ve sent for the last 18 months?” he asked. “We simply cannot. No matter how many checks the U.S. Congress writes, we are limited there.”

    “I think what’s reasonable to accomplish is some negotiated peace,” he said, arguing that Russia, Ukraine, Europe and the U.S. all have an incentive to come to the table now and that the two-year-old war will at some point end in a negotiated peace.

    Ricarda Lang, a co-leader of one of Germany’s governing parties, the Greens, responded that Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown repeatedly “that he has no interest in peace at the moment.”

    Halting weapons supplies to Ukraine now would mean that “either you are prolonging the war or you give up Ukraine and Putin wins,” she said.

    If Putin wins, “he, but also other forces like China, are going to learn that it’s possible to just change borders and that NATO is not going to hold it against us,” Lang added. That would lead to “a world with less security, and … a world with less freedom for the EU but also for the U.S.”

    Vance was part of a large group of U.S. lawmakers who attended the Munich conference. Several of his Senate colleagues met Zelenskyy on Saturday, but Vance did not join them.

    Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, posted on social network X after the meeting that Zelenskyy came to the conference “laser focused with a strong message for America: Ukraine needs your support & we’ll use it well.”

    Republican senators have been deeply divided on Ukraine.

    Left:
    Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, speaks to reporters at the Munich Security Conference, outside the Bayerischer Hof Hotel in Munich, Germany, Feb. 18, 2024. Photo via Reuters

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