WASHINGTON: The top U.S. general in Europe told Congress on Wednesday that Ukraine will run out of artillery shells and air defense interceptors “in fairly short order” without U.S. support, leaving them vulnerable to a partial or total defeat.

In a sign of how scarce some weapons were, General Christopher Cavoli, commander of European Command, told the House Armed Services Committee that Russia was currently firing five artillery shells for every one fired by Ukrainian forces and that disparity could increase in coming weeks to 10 to one.

“If one side can shoot and the other side can’t shoot back, the side that can’t shoot back loses. So the stakes are very high,” Cavoli said.

“They’re really dependent this year on us, Mr. Chairman. And without our support, they will not be able to prevail,” he added.

Republican House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson is refusing to call a vote on a bill that would provide $60 billion more for Ukraine.

NATO chief says Ukraine ‘cannot wait’ for air defences

The White House is scrambling to find ways to send assistance to Kyiv, which has been battling Russian forces for more than two years.

Some lawmakers voiced increasing frustration with lack of progress on funding for Ukraine, a measure passed by the Senate already.

During the hearing, Democratic U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin of Michigan said Johnson should put on his “big boy pants” and make a tough choice, even at the risk of losing his job.

“That’s what leadership is,” Slotkin said.

Russian air strikes on Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region on Wednesday afternoon hit a clinic and a pharmacy, killing at least three people.

Russian attacks have long targeted Kharkiv and the surrounding region, but the strikes have grown more intense in recent weeks, hitting civilian and energy infrastructure.

President Joe Biden’s administration has voiced concern about the lack of funding for Ukraine. Last month, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned that Ukraine’s survival was in danger and sought to convince allies the U.S. was committed to Kyiv.

Officials say lack of funding available is already having an impact on the ground in Ukraine, where Russian troops are advancing and Ukrainian forces must manage limited resources.

European support has become more important with Biden struggling to get a big Ukraine aid package through Congress while devoting more foreign policy energy to the war in Gaza.

Yet U.S. officials say European support for Ukraine will not be enough. On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced that it had transferred to Ukraine thousands of infantry weapons and more than 500,000 rounds of ammunition that were seized over a year ago from an Iranian shipment to Houthi forces in Yemen.

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