Saying ‘China is watching,’ US spy chiefs plead for Ukraine aid

By Thomson Reuters Mar 12, 2024 | 10:56 AM

By Patricia Zengerle and Michael Martina

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Leaders of U.S. intelligence agencies urgently pressed members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday to approve additional military assistance for Ukraine, saying it would not only boost Kyiv as it fights Russia but discourage Chinese aggression.

“That has consequences for American interests that go … directly to our interests in the Indo-Pacific,” CIA Director William Burns told the House of Representatives’ Intelligence committee’s annual hearing on Worldwide Threats to U.S. security.

“That kind of an outcome will stoke the ambitions of the Chinese leadership, and they’re going to undermine the faith that our partners and allies in the Indo Pacific have in our reliability,” Burns said.

Republican House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson, an ally of former President Donald Trump, has so far refused to call a vote on a bill that would provide $60 billion more for Ukraine more than two years after Russian launched a full-scale invasion.

The measure has passed the Democratic-run Senate, and both Republicans and Democrats in the House say it would pass if the chamber’s Republican leaders allowed a vote.

Representative Mike Turner, chairman of the House intelligence committee, noted that some members of Congress support aid to Ukraine but “I believe, mistakenly,” contend that Kyiv can afford a delay.

Burns agreed, saying, “I can already see the Ukrainian military rationing ammunition, you can already see them becoming more vulnerable to Russian attacks from the air, from drones, from missiles, from aircraft,” he told the committee.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Michael Martina; Editing by Daniel Wallis)