Ukrainian-born US legislator grows apprehensive about future aid

With GOP voters highly skeptical about bankrolling Ukraine, Victoria Spartz says she wants tougher conditions on any future assistance

The only Ukrainian-born member of the US Congress has abandoned her efforts to secure more cash for Kiev, telling the Wall Street Journal that she could only “do so much” for her homeland. 

With the Republican-controlled House of Representatives expected to vote on a military aid package for Ukraine in the coming weeks, Indiana Representative Victoria Spartz the newspaper on Wednesday that she will not be attempting to persuade her GOP colleagues to back a Senate-approved $95 billion aid bill that would include $60 billion in funding for Ukraine.

“I did what I could, but as one woman standing, I can do so much,” she said. “You can [only] pick so many hills to die on.” 

Born in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1978, Spartz emigrated to the US in 2000 and became a citizen six years later. She has served in Congress since 2021, and emerged as one of the most ardent proponents of aid for Kiev after Russia’s military operation in Ukraine began in 2022.

Spartz accused Russia of committing “genocide” in Ukraine, lobbied for a ban on Russian oil and gas imports, and in May of that year, voted in favor of a $40 billion aid package for Kiev.

However, her position on the conflict has since fallen in line with that of an increasingly isolationist GOP. In July 2022, Spartz Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky of “playing politics and theater,” and demanded more US oversight of weapons and ammo sent to Ukraine. Since last year, she has refused to publicly back either the Senate-passed $95 billion aid bill or a larger $105 billion package pushed by US President Joe Biden.

Spartz told the Wall Street Journal that she could support a new aid package, but only if it included more oversight and was tied to increased funding for US border security. She also told the newspaper that she supports lending – rather than gifting – aid money to Ukraine, a floated by former President Donald Trump and some senior GOP lawmakers.

“I understand the importance of this battle and the implications if Russia is going to prevail, but I’m also not very naive. If we don’t have proper oversight, we are not going to achieve our goals,” she said. “We cannot have these never-ending wars.”

It is unclear what kind of aid package House Speaker Mike Johnson will put to a vote when lawmakers return from recess next week. According to , Johnson is still undecided on which concessions to demand from the Biden administration, and a vote could be weeks or even months away.

Spartz’s decision to back off on supporting Kiev is likely explained by politics. Earlier this month, her primary opponent, Chuck Goodrich, $1 million on TV ads, some of which accused her of “putting Ukraine first” and “focusing on Europe’s problems.”

Spartz’s Indiana Congressional has voted Republican since 2000, and was comfortably won by Trump in 2020. With five weeks to go until the primary vote, Spartz and Goodrich are within three points of each other.