Days after the Pentagon announced that total US military aid given to Ukraine so far has topped $18.5 billion, new reporting has revealed President Joe Biden briefly lost his temper in a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, after the latter kept pressing for more money and arms.
NBC has cited four officials familiar with a phone call which took place in June, who revealed for the first time on Monday, "Biden had barely finished telling Zelenskyy he’d just greenlighted another $1 billion in U.S. military assistance for Ukraine when Zelenskyy started listing all the additional help he needed and wasn’t getting."
At that point, "Biden lost his temper, the people familiar with the call said." Not only has Washington handed Kyiv a record amount of military aid, but tens of more billions in humanitarian funding as well, as the country struggles to keep the lights on and keep civil services active amid mounting wartime debt as the Russian invasion continues.
President Biden, reportedly showing his irritation, explained to Zelensky in that prior phone call, "The American people were being quite generous, and his administration and the U.S. military were working hard to help Ukraine, he said, raising his voice, and Zelenskyy could show a little more gratitude."
The report followed by citing one source who said additionally that "Biden was direct with Zelensky" and reminded him that defense aid must be handled through the appropriate military channels.
According to more from NBC, the two leaders' communications have since improved:
Administration officials said Biden and Zelenskyy’s relationship has only improved since the June phone call, after which Zelenskyy made a statement praising the U.S. for its generous assistance. But the clash reflects Biden’s early awareness that both congressional and public support for sending billions of dollars to Ukraine could begin to fade. That moment has arrived just as the president prepares to ask Congress to greenlight even more money for Ukraine.
Perhaps the two getting past those prior June tensions was the result of the White House continuing to essentially sign off on whatever Ukraine asks for.
Biden was so angry that he sent Zelensky more billions.— Juju (@Juju315858) October 31, 2022
Last month, Zelensky boasted in a CBS "Face the Nation" interview that Washington is providing him with a whopping $1.5 billion per month for state coffers as the country piles up a large war-time deficit.
"The United States gives us $1.5 billion every month to support our budget to fight" against Russia the Ukrainian leader explained, but pointed out there remains "a deficit of $5 billion in our budget." Of course, in that interview he immediately pivoted to repeating Kyiv's longtime complaint that it's not enough - because it's never enough, apparently.