U.S. Border Crisis Should Take Priority Over Ukraine Support: Russia Envoy


Russia’s representative in the U.S. has suggested the White House should redirect funds being used to support Ukraine towards the southern border, where he suggested more resources are needed to address America’s long-running migration crisis.

In a statement posted to the Russian embassy’s official Telegram channel on Wednesday, Ambassador Anatoly Antonov railed against the latest American tranche of military aid to Ukraine made up of munitions and weapons worth some $300 million. Russian officials regularly criticize Western military support for Kyiv as Moscow continues to wage its stalled invasion of the country.

President Joe Biden’s administration has directed more than $75 billion in support to Ukraine since Moscow’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022. Almost $44 billion is made up of military aid. The U.S. is by far the largest Western contributor of weapons and ammunition to Ukraine—aid that has been vital in facilitating Ukraine’s survival and several successful counteroffensives.

Russian and foreign critics of U.S. and allied military support for Ukraine have argued that donated resources could be used better elsewhere, though Ukrainian and Western officials have repeatedly noted that the existing munitions and weapons sent to Kyiv have few alternative uses, especially those which are outdated or expiring.

A Ukrainian artillery unit responds to Russian artillery shelling by firing a U.S.-made M777 cannon on January 9, 2023, in Kherson, Ukraine. This kind of howitzer is one of the most visible examples of U.S. military aid to Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022.
Pierre Crom/Getty Images

Antonov framed his opposition to the latest American security package as a humanitarian concern.

“Numerous questions remain unanswered about why Washington is unprepared to address acute migration issues on the southern borders of the United States,” the ambassador said.

“The problem of the miserable existence of migrants could be solved quite simply by redirecting at least part of the military aid that burns in the furnace of the conflict in Ukraine to noble goals,” the envoy added, though did not explain how existing weapons and munitions could be used to address the plight of migrants arriving at the southern border.

“However, the American authorities do not want to see the reality. It seems that they are zombified by the desire to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia, by trying to wear down our economy. At the same time, they continue to encourage the reckless actions of their ‘clients,’ supplying them with ever more deadly weapons.”

Newsweek has contacted the White House by email to request comment.

In the past, Russian officials have often looked to stoke and play off partisan domestic issues in the U.S. Migration pressure at the southern border is set to pose a problem for Biden as he fights for re-election next year, with recent polling by the Global Strategy Group (first reported by Politico) showing bipartisan concern among voters over the White House’s handling of the situation.

Hard-right Republicans who have made migration a key platform have been among the most vocal opponents of American aid for Ukraine. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), for example, wrote on Twitter in February that the border “is in crisis” and accused Biden of “ditching America for Ukraine.”

Skepticism towards U.S. involvement in Ukraine looks set to imbue the Republican presidential primary contest, with former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis both pushing isolationist messages.

“While the U.S. has many vital national interests—securing our borders, addressing the crisis of readiness within our military, achieving energy security and independence, and checking the economic, cultural, and military power of the Chinese Communist Party—becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them,” DeSantis said in March, before quickly walking the comments back after significant backlash.

Trump has at times appeared sympathetic to Russia’s war of aggression. In the hours after the February 2022 invasion, he called President Vladimir Putin’s military gambit “savvy.”

More than a year of the war appears to have done little to shift Trump’s mindset. Last month, for example, the former president refused to commit to backing Ukraine if he wins the 2024 election, telling New Hampshire GOP primary voters: “We’re giving away so much equipment, we don’t have ammunition for ourselves right now.”

Migrants board van near southern border California
A U.S. Border Patrol agent keeps watch as immigrants enter a vehicle to be transported from a makeshift camp between border walls, between the U.S. and Mexico, on May 13, 2023, in San Diego, California. Migration pressure at the southern border poses a significant political problem for President Joe Biden.
Mario Tama/Getty Images


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