US President Joe Biden delivers remarks urging Congress to pass his national security supplement request, which includes funding to support Ukraine, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on December 6, 2023 ( AFP / MANDEL NGAN)

Online claims misrepresent White House remarks on Ukraine military aid

  • Published on January 9, 2024 at 22:06
  • Updated on January 10, 2024 at 18:53
  • 4 min read
  • By Natalie WADE, AFP USA
President Joe Biden requested an emergency $106 billion package including aid for Ukraine's defense against the Russian invasion along with funding for Israel in its war with Hamas and US border security. Some social media users claim Biden threatened to send troops to fight Russia if Congress did not approve the additional provisions; this misrepresents the administration's remarks on the response required if Russian forces were to move into North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) territory.

"Biden now threatening to send American sons and daughters over there if Congress doesn't pass $61 billion for Ukraine," says a December 7, 2023 Instagram post

The accompanying video is a clip of Biden's December 6, 2023 remarks (archived here) in which he says: "If he keeps going and then he attacks a NATO ally then we'll have something that we don't seek and that we don't have today -- American troops fighting Russian troops."

The post's overlayed text reads: "Says he's sending US to FIGHT RUSSIA. Would you die for Joe Biden and (Ukraine)?"

Screenshot of an Instagram post taken January 8, 2024

Posts making similar claims can be found in online articles and across social media platforms including TikTok and X, where several prominent conservatives including former Fox News host Tucker Carlson shared a similar narrative.

But the president did not threaten to deploy US troops to fight Russia if the budget was not approved. Instead, he was warning of what may happen if Russian forces were to expand into any of the NATO territories neighboring Ukraine, which the United States is bound by treaty to help.

On October 19, 2023 Biden made an impassioned case for approval of a White House request seeking a massive $106 billion national security package, which would include $61 billion in military aid for Ukraine.

In early December, the request was stalled in Washington and the White House warned (archived here) that the United States would run out of funding by the end of 2023 to assist Ukraine in its war against Russia. Congress remains divided on passing Biden's request for emergency military aid as Republicans demand Mexico border reforms in exchange for their support on Ukraine.

Biden's called again for Congress to pass the aid package on December 6 (archived here). In the portion of the address shared in the social media posts, the president suggested that if Putin, who ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, was victorious, "he won't stop there." 

Biden argued that funding Ukraine's war efforts now will reduce the likelihood of US forces being deployed into combat.

According to the White House fact sheet (archived here), "The Administration's supplemental request will provide the critical training, equipment, and weapons necessary to help Ukraine defend and recapture its sovereign territory and protect the Ukrainian people against Russian aggression." 

Biden met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Washington on December 12, again promising that the United States would "continue to supply Ukraine with critical weapons and equipment as long as we can," making no mention of troop deployments.

NATO obligations

Since the war began experts and US officials have expressed concerns of a broader conflagration if Putin's military plans were to extend beyond Ukraine and into NATO countries like Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The prospect of sending US soldiers into Ukraine is supported by just 31 percent of American voters, polling for Newsweek magazine found in 2023.

However, Article 5 of the treaty agreement states if a NATO ally is the target of an armed attack, every other member of the alliance will consider this act of violence against all members and will take the actions it deems necessary to assist the ally (archived here). 

White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby emphasized the importance of Article 5 in a December press conference:

"And if Putin gets all of Ukraine, then what? Then where does he go? Because right then, he's up against the eastern flank of NATO. And if you think the cost of supporting Ukraine is high now, just imagine how much higher it's going to be -- not just in national treasure, but in American blood -- if he starts going after one of our NATO Allies. Because, as the President also said, we take our Article 5 commitments very seriously."

NATO has vowed Kyiv will join one day but refused to issue a formal invite at a summit last July due to fears from both the United States and Germany that Ukraine's membership could drag them into war with Moscow. 

AFP has previously debunked other misinformation about Russia's war on Ukraine here.

This article was updated following a response from the White House.
January 10, 2024 This article was updated following a response from the White House.

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