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Biden meets with German chancellor amid Ukraine aid standoff in Congress

Their White House meeting comes at a critical time, with U.S. aid languishing in Congress as Ukraine battles Russia and the Israel-Hamas war rages on.
Image: Joe Biden, Olaf Scholz
President Joe Biden, right, meets with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the Oval Office of the White House on Feb. 9, 2024.Andrew Harnik / AP

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden hosted German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House on Friday for a bilateral meeting that comes at a critical time, with U.S. aid languishing in Congress as Ukraine battles Russia and as Israel continues its military offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

In the Oval Office before their private meeting began, Biden said that the U.S. and Germany must work together on global issues, especially in helping Ukraine. Biden said they would also discuss NATO's work ahead of this summer's summit and developments in the Middle East, including negotiations over securing the release of hostages still being held in Gaza.

Biden also said it would be "criminal" and "outrageous" if Congress fails to pass funding to aid Ukraine.

Speaking briefly, Scholz referenced the “ridiculous interview” that Russian President Vladimir Putin gave to former Fox News host Tucker Carlson. The German chancellor reiterated the importance of supporting Ukraine and expressed hope that Congress would approve more aid.

In a statement following the meeting, the White House said that the leaders "reaffirmed their resolute support for Ukraine," and discussed both the Israel-Hamas war and the upcoming NATO summit.

"The leaders discussed efforts to prevent regional escalation in the Middle East, and reaffirmed their commitment to Israel’s right to self-defense consistent with international law," the statement said. "They also underscored the imperative to protect civilians in Gaza and increase deliveries of life-saving humanitarian assistance."

Ahead of their meeting, Scholz wrote in an op-ed published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal that "a Russian victory in Ukraine would not only be the end of Ukraine as a free, democratic and independent state, it would also dramatically change the face of Europe."

"It would deal a severe blow to the liberal world order," he wrote. "Our message is clear: We have to do our utmost to prevent Russia from winning. If we don’t, we might soon wake up in a world even more unstable, threatening and unpredictable than it was during the Cold War."

During Friday's meeting, Scholz “emphasized the significance of sustained U.S. support” to Ukraine, the White House readout said.

Biden has been calling on Congress for months to pass new aid to Ukraine, as well as to Israel and Taiwan.

On Thursday, the Senate voted to advance legislation that would provide financial assistance to those three countries, but it's unclear if it will have enough support to get through the Senate or for final passage in the House.