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White House warns Ukraine situation is ‘very dire’ after talks with congressional leaders

The White House warned Tuesday that the situation in Ukraine is “very dire” after congressional leaders held what they called “intense” talks with President Biden.

“These Ukrainian soldiers on the front, I mean, they’re making some real tough decisions about what they’re going to shoot at and what they’re going to shoot at it with. And they’re running out of bullets … So the situation is very dire,” White House national security communications adviser John Kirby told reporters at Tuesday’s briefing.

“I’m not in a position to put a time stamp on it and say, you know, by such and such date, they’ll lose the war,” Kirby added of Ukraine, “but they are certainly beginning to lose territory — territory that they had clawed back from the Russians. And now they have to give it back to the Russians because they can’t — they can’t fight them off.”

Russian forces captured the key Ukrainian city of Avdiivka earlier this month as the war entered its third year — and as lawmakers are locked in a heated battle over sending more aid for Kyiv.

“We need it now. I won’t even begin to speculate what would be too late. We’re already in some ways too — too late,” Kirby said.

“They lost the town Avdiivka, because of — literally because of ammunition. So in some ways, it’s already having a dramatic effect on the battlefield.”

The comments come after Biden met with House and Senate leaders to discuss a funding measure to avoid a looming government shutdown, as well potential Ukraine funding and border measures to go along with it.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) suggested the meeting was productive, but both characterized the talks on Ukraine as “intense.”

Schumer said that during the meeting he underscored Ukrainian President Volodymy Zelensky’s warning that “if they don’t get aid quickly, that Ukraine could fall.”

The Senate has approved a package that would include billions for Ukraine, but Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who was also at the Tuesday meeting, has indicated the legislation will not be brought for a vote in the lower chamber.

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