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British Foreign Secretary David Cameron urges US Congress to pass Ukraine aid package

<i>Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

By Rob Picheta, CNN

(CNN) — Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Cameron has urged US lawmakers to “lift the morale” of Ukraine by passing an aid package for Kyiv that has become entangled in Republican quarrelling.

Cameron, a former British prime minister, told CNN during a trip to Washington, DC, on Thursday that the US is “the lynchpin” of the Western coalition backing Ukraine’s fight against Russia.

His intervention comes a day after Republicans in the Senate blocked foreign aid from advancing in protest over the package’s lack of changes to border and immigration policy.

“Most of the people I met on the Hill yesterday support backing Ukraine, because it’s the right thing to do,” Cameron told CNN, though he avoided commenting on Republicans’ demands on immigration. “This is an investment into their success, and the worst thing in the world would be to allow Putin a win in Ukraine – not just because that would be bad in itself, but (because) he’d be back for more.”

The Senate has struggled for weeks as it tied immigration and border security policy – one of Congress’ historically most divisive issues – to a legislative package for sending aid to key US allies, among them Israel and Ukraine.

Republicans’ insistence on changes to border policy have led to increased tension on Capitol Hill, including a classified briefing earlier this week that devolved into a closed-door shouting match.

Cameron met with House Speaker Mike Johnson on Wednesday as part of a two-day charm offensive aimed at reaffirming support for Ukraine. On Thursday, he will meet US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“There’s no doubt that America coming forward with this package will lift the morale of Ukrainians, (and) it will make sure Europe focuses on doing more,” Cameron said. “If you add up military and civilian (support), European nations are doing more than the US, and I think that’s important and quite right.”

Cameron was Britain’s prime minister for six years before resigning in 2016, in the wake of voters’ decision to leave the European Union, a move that he opposed. He unexpectedly returned to politics last month when he accepted the role of foreign secretary.

Britain has taken a leading role in providing support and assistance to Kyiv since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The UK has invested £9.3 billion ($11.7 billion) in military, humanitarian and economic support for Ukraine since the start of the war, it said this week.

But tensions among Republicans in Washington over continued military assistance threaten to create a major crack in Ukraine’s Western alliance.

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday urged Congress to resolve negotiations over the future of Ukraine funding, saying “petty partisan politics can’t get in the way” of aid for Kyiv.

“History’s going to judge harshly those who turn their back on freedom’s cause,” the president said. “We can’t let Putin win.”

His administration’s package includes about $60 billion in aid toward Ukraine’s defenses against Russia, with the rest going toward Israel’s war with Hamas, security in Taiwan and funding for operations at the US-Mexico border. Top Republicans, weary of adding more to the $111 billion the US has already sent to Ukraine, have asked that any further funding be tied to major immigration-related policy changes.

Support for Israel

Cameron also reiterated British support for Israel in the wake of Hamas’ October 7 attacks, but urged the country to abide by international law in its response. He backed remarks by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who told CNN on Wednesday that Israel is taking some “important steps” to better protect civilians during its offensive in southern Gaza.

Cameron said Blinken, whom he will meet on Thursday, made “a series of points about how Israel is trying to behave differently in the south of Gaza to the north of Gaza, and I think that is right, and we should continue to make those points to them.”

“Ultimately the long-term security of Israel does depend not only on their own armed strength and fortitude, but also on having Palestinians able to live in peace and security as well,” Cameron said.

A humanitarian crisis has unfolded in Gaza, where Israeli air and ground assaults have left Palestinians displaced and in dire need of food, supplies and medical care.

Cameron has visited Israel and Ukraine in his first weeks as foreign secretary. He resisted calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, telling CNN: “If we leave Hamas in charge of even a part of Gaza, there will never be a two-state solution because you can’t expect Israel to live next to a group of people that want to do October 7 all over again.”

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CNN’s Michael Williams and Betsy Klein, Priscilla Alvarez and Lauren Fox contributed reporting

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