Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:19 P.M. EDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good afternoon, everyone.
Q: Good afternoon.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: As you can see, we have the National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan joining us today to talk about -- give a little bit of a preview and talk about the President's visit with President Zelenskyy today. As you know, he's all in tow- -- he's in town, and he'll take some of your foreign policy questions as well.
With that, Jake, the podium is yours.
MR. SULLIVAN: Thanks, Karine. And thanks for letting me come back here just a few days after I was last before you at this podium.
President Biden returned from New York last night, where he held a series of engagements and meetings at the U.N. General Assembly. He launched important initiatives, he engaged with heads of state from around the world, and he laid out a substantive agenda for effective American leadership at a pivotal moment in the world.
In his remarks to the General Assembly, President Biden highlighted all that is at stake as we continue to rally the world to support Ukraine, including the fate of core principles of the United Nations Charter: sovereignty, territorial integrity, and human rights, which are the pillars of peaceful relations among nations.
As you all know, President Biden underscored that it's not just the future of the people of Ukraine that hangs in the balance as they bravely fight every day to defend their rights and their sovereign territory from a brutal Russian invasion. The President spoke about how critical it is that the U.S. and the world send the unmistakable message that in the 21st century, a dictator cannot be allowed to conquer or carve up his neighbor's territory by force and threaten the fundamental values of freedom and independence that matter to every American.
If we allow that here, it will happen elsewhere in ways that will undermine the fundamental security, not to mention the values that the American people hold so dear.
Following up on that speech at the U.N. earlier this week, today President Biden is hosting President Zelenskyy of Ukraine here at the White House, where he will emphasize the continued need for the American people to step up and support Ukraine as they battle on the frontlines of the free world.
Today's meeting will be the sixth in-person meeting between President Biden and President Zelenskyy. And it's President Zelenskyy's third visit to the White House during the Biden administration.
Of course, they have talked many times over the course of the past year and a half by phone, on video, and our teams are in constant, daily communication.
This meeting comes at a significant moment, as Ukrainian forces continue to make progress in their counteroffensive, and just after Russia launched yet another brutal wave of airstrikes against five cities -- five cities in Ukraine that hit critical civilian infrastructure and knocked out power for many people in many different parts of the country.
To help defend against assaults like this one -- assaults from the air -- President Biden will announce a new package of military assistance today that includes significant air defense capabilities to help Ukraine protect its people. These capabilities will help Ukraine harden its defenses ahead of what is likely to be a tough winter filled with renewed Russian attacks on Ukrainian critical infrastructure to try to deprive innocent people of necessities like heat and electricity.
Because President Putin cannot achieve his objectives on the battlefield, he has re- -- reduced to and is resorting to attacks that are intended to plunge ordinary people's lives into cold and darkness. And we are going to do everything wor- --working with Ukrainians to make that task more and more difficult for Russia to be able to pull off.
The package the President will announce today will also include weapons and equipment to help Ukraine maintain its momentum in the counteroffensive. That includes additional ammunition for U.S.-provided HIMARS systems, anti-armor capabilities, artillery, ammunition, and more DPICMs, which have helped Ukraine make gains and crucially also helped Ukraine defend against counterattacks.
President Biden and President Zelenskyy will also discuss our joint efforts to support Ukraine's economic recovery. And he will introduce a special representative for Ukraine's economic recovery, Penny Pritzker, who will focus on engaging the private sector, partner countries, and Ukrainian counterparts to generate international investment in Ukraine and work with Ukraine to make the reforms necessary to improve Ukraine's business climate.
President Biden, of course, is also looking forward to hear directly from President Zelenskyy in person -- his perspective on the war and the road ahead and all of the more specific operational issues that have been a feature of all of their conversations over the course of the past year and a half.
Above all, though, President Biden wants to use today to reaffirm his commitment, this administration's commitment, this country's commitment to continuing to lead the world in support of Ukraine for as long as it takes, and that's what he intends to do today.
And with that, I look forward to taking your questions.
Q: Thank you. (Inaudible) Canada and India's relationship?
MR. SULLIVAN: Actually, I was calling on her. But go ahead.
Q: Thank you so much.
MR. SULLIVAN: You can go ahead.
Q: Thank you. Can you give us a sense -- your sense of what's happening between Canada and India? India is fuming at a Canadian allegation that India was involved in the death of a Canadian citizen (inaudible) in India. Canada is saying that they have informed you about the proof they have about those allegations. What's your sense of it?
MR. SULLIVAN: As soon as we heard from the Canadian Prime Minister publicly about the allegations, we went out publicly ourselves and expressed our deep concern about them, our support for a law enforcement process to get to the bottom of exactly what happened and to ensure that the perpetrators are held accountable.
I'm not going to get into the substance of private diplomatic conversations, but we are in constant contact with our Canadian counterparts. We are consulting with them closely, we support the efforts that they are undertaking in this investigation, and we have also been in touch with the Indian government as well.
And I will leave it at that for today, only to say that I have seen in the press some efforts to try to drive a wedge between the United States and Canada on this issue. And I firmly reject the idea that there is a wedge between the U.S. and Canada. We have deep concerns about the allegations, and we would like to see this investigation carried forward and the perpetrators held to account.
That is what the United States has stood for from the moment this emerged in public, and we will continue to stand for that until this fully plays its way out.
So, you can go ahead, sorry.
Q: Hi. So, I know that ATACMS have been on the table, been in consideration by President Biden. I'm wondering if you can talk about what those consideration factors are. Is it a stocks/money issue? Is it a -- we're not ready -- they're not ready at this point in the war to start longer-range fires? Can you tell us about that?
MR. SULLIVAN: So, I can only tell you so much from this podium, because operational considerations about any given weapons system -- some of that is quite sensitive.
What I would say is that the President is constantly speaking both to his own military and to his counterparts in Europe and to the Ukrainians themselves about what is needed on the battlefield at any given phase of the war and then what the United States can provide while also ensuring that we are able to provide for our own defer- -- deterrence and defense needs.
As he's weighed all that up, to date, he has determined that he would not provide ATACMS, but he has also not taken it off the table in the future. I don't have anything to announce about that today.
Q: Thanks, Jake. House Republican leaders are heavily laying the blame at President Biden's feet today for the fact that the House has not passed that additional package of Ukraine aid. House Speaker McCarthy saying today that President Biden hasn't made the case to the American public -- what is victory, what does it take to be able to win.
You met with Speaker McCarthy and other Republicans recently. What was your message to them? And then, what is your response to Speaker McCarthy today?
MR. SULLIVAN: I'm not going to get into a debate with Speaker McCarthy from the podium. I would say that Speaker McCarthy has himself been an advocate for the supply of military assistance to Ukraine, has voted for previous packages, and that Republicans in both the House and Senate in very large numbers have been strong advocates and supporters for this. Haven't just wanted to hear the case from us -- they've been going out and themselves making the case to their constituents and to the world for why this is so important.
And it is that level of bipartisan support that we've seen to date that has sustained the immense and impressive levels of assistance that we've been able to provide to Ukraine.
We believe that that will continue because we believe that there is strong majorities on a bipartisan basis in both the House and Senate to provide this aid. That's what we look forward to seeing.
Now, I did have the opportunity to see the -- the Democratic and Republican leadership in the Senate and the House and the chairs and ranking members of the key national security committees in two separate sessions.
I thought they were incredibly constructive sessions. They were deeply substantive. The members had excellent questions. They also had a lot of constructive suggestions for how we most effectively pursue continued assistance to Ukraine and rally the world to help Ukraine defend its territory.
So, on the basis of those conversations and further consultation we've had since then, I continue to remain of the view that when all is said and done -- after all the back-and-forth, and the to-ing and fro-ing, and all the other elements going into these negotiations that have nothing to do with Ukraine -- that there will be strong bipartisan support to continue funding Ukraine to the extent that we believe is necessary to get Ukraine what it needs.
Q: Thanks, Jake. Go back to India for a minute. Does the U.S. have any intelligence or investigative evidence to support Canada's claims?
And then secondly, Ambassador Garcetti had suggested that President Biden was going to return to India in January to celebrate Republic Day. And I'm wondering if that trip is now in question, given this diplomatic row between two U.S. partners.
MR. SULLIVAN: I'm not going to speak to either intelligence or law enforcement matters from this podium. I will let that process play out.
We are in, as I said before, continuous communication and consultation with the Canadian government. And we will remain so as we go forward.
And I do not have anything to announce about travel by the President to India in January or at any other time today.
Q: Jake, you've expressed your confidence that Congress will, in the not-too-distant future, pass the necessary $24 billion in funds that you say is -- are necessary going forward in Ukraine. By what date does that need to occur to not have any impact? What is the urgency? And how soon does that need to happen to make sure that there is no let-up in the effort to help support the Ukrainians?
MR. SULLIVAN: So, just to be clear, the supplemental funding package that we put forward to the Hill was for the period from the end of the fiscal year to the end of the calendar year -- basically, September 30th to the end of the year.
So, there's not a single dar- -- dollar amount that is necessary for all time. We need funding to keep going, meaning that if, for example, the Congress passed a shorter package, you could have a proportional amount or a longer package, et cetera.
Q: But at what point does that package -- new package need to be passed?
MR. SULLIVAN: We will want to see additional funding for Ukraine after the end of the fiscal year -- so, after September 30th -- meaning that we would like additional resources from the Congress on October 1st to be able to ensure that there's no disruption in the supply of funding to Ukraine.
Q: And at what point would there be a disruption if we passed -- what date would there be a disruption, given the fears about this not passing?
MR. SULLIVAN: Well, I mean, there's a sliding scale of disruption. But the day after the funds lapse or run out at the end of the fiscal year, there would be a break if we do not get the funding starting October 1st.
That's why we are making the case to the Congress that we should see additional funding at that time.
Q: Quick follow-up on the Congress. Speaker McCarthy, as has now been reported, turned down President Zelenskyy's desire to speak for a joint session of Congress. Obviously, they control Congress; you don't. But what do you think that says to the American people if Zelenskyy was not given that opportunity, given the stakes that you say exist right now?
MR. SULLIVAN: I've read the reports of that. I haven't heard it directly. So, it's hard for me to comment or speculate on it.
What I will say is that President Zelenskyy just spent hours up on the Hill with Democrats and Republicans -- and not just behind closed doors, but out in public -- to be able to explain his case and to stand, frankly, with members who want to also make the case that this should continue.
So, I keep saying basically the same thing, standing up here, that I genuinely believe, which is: There is a vocal, quite small minority of members who are raising questions. There is a very strong, overwhelming majority of members, both Democrats and Republicans, who want to see aid continue. And I believe that's where the American people are as well. So, I believe that will shine through in the end.
Q: Is the U.S. concerned about Poland's decision to stop sending arms to Ukraine and whether that signals any sort of broad waning of Western support for Ukraine?
MR. SULLIVAN: When I read the headlines this morning, I was, of course, concerned and had questions. But I've subsequently seen the Polish government spokesman come out to clarify that, in fact, Poland's provision of equipment, including things like Polish manufactured howitzers, is continuing and that Poland continues to stand behind Ukraine.
So, we will stay in consultation with them to ensure that we understand fully what the nature of Poland's stance is on these issues, but I believe that Poland will continue to be a supporter of Ukraine.
Q: Thank you, Jake. What are you telling congressional leaders about how much more aid is needed to ensure Ukraine can win the war, not just sustain the war? And what timeline are you sharing with them?
MR. SULLIVAN: Well, we've put forward a proposal. We've actually laid out in some detail every element of assistance that we believe is necessary to get us to the end of this year, and then we have begun talking to them about what next year looks like as well. But that's in military support, economic support, humanitarian, energy assistance, and so forth.
War is inherently unpredictable, of course. So, I can't look you in the eye and I certainly can't look them in the eye and predict exactly what's going to happen on exactly what timetable. And therefore, we need to have a degree of flexibility and adaptability in our approach, as we have since the beginning of this conflict. That will continue.
But what we know is that there is core capabilities -- in ammunition, in air defense systems, and in other critical military elements -- that Ukraine will continue to need from its partners in NATO and other countries around the world. And we, the United States, are committed to making sure they get those.
In fact, Secretary Austin had the opportunity to host another round of the Ramstein Group, the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group, this week in Germany. And we continue to see a level of urgency and intensity in the support to -- for this kind of assistance to go to Ukraine from dozens of countries around the world. The United States has got to step up and do its part.
Q: And you talk about the bipartisan support, but the issue here is just how does this even get to the floor for a vote. So, what is the path forward here?
MR. SULLIVAN: In a way, that's above my paygrade because that involves questions related to the entire budget, much of which goes well beyond the national security remit.
So, I will not handicap, kind of, overall budget negotiations. What I'm laser-focused on is: When all is said and done, will there be the support and the resources necessary for Ukraine?
I believe, based on my consultations on the Hill with both Republicans and Democrats, that there will be.
Q: Thank you, again, for being here. You are -- you expressed confidence that ultimately there will be money provided as requested, if not more or whatever. And that's the understanding here at the White House.
How do you explain, then, all of this to Zelenskyy or to other world leaders who might be watching this domestic fight and thinking, "Should we really believe that the United States is on board with Ukraine and with this effort?" I mean, how do you explain congressional dysfunction, I guess, to your counterparts?
MR. SULLIVAN: I mean, one thing you definitely do not need to explain to democratically elected leaders in Europe -- frankly, even to autocrats -- is politics. Okay? Leaders know politics. And President Biden's counterparts understand that budget negotiations take place and there's difficult give-and-take in them. And that's in the nature of a democratic system.
So, President Zelenskyy is not coming here like a babe in the woods not having any understanding that, you know, we have to work through, as we approach the end of the fiscal year, funding for the government going forward. He recognizes that that's going to be contested, that there are different perspectives.
What he wants to hear from the President is kind of similar to what you are trying to elicit from me, which is what is the degree of confidence we have that we can deliver in the end. And we believe that we can, which doesn't mean that the road ahead is entirely straight or I can predict to you exactly how this is all going to play out. What I believe is that when all is said and done, the support will be there.
Q: One -- one real quick on -- when we talk about Canada, there's an issue with Mexico today because AMLO suggested he's not coming to APEC in November amid concerns with its relationship with Peru. Have they given formal notice they're not coming? And what do you make of this dispute between the two?
MR. SULLIVAN: I actually had not seen him go out publicly and say that. But without going deep into our diplomatic conversations with them, they had raised the possibility that that might happen. We'll have to talk to them. And I don't want to comment on it at the podium before I've had the chance to talk to them directly.
Q: Thank you so much. I would like to ask you a question about Saudi Arabia. Yesterday, the Crown Prince said that if Iran gets nuclear weapons, then Saudi Arabia would get them too. How do you react to that? And is it a way to put pressure on the administration at a time when the President is trying to broker a deal with Israel?
MR. SULLIVAN: No, I don't think so. This has been a longstanding position of Saudi Arabia. And, frankly, one of the major reasons that we are working overtime with partners and allies to ensure that Iran never gets a nuclear weapon is that if they did, not only would they be a direct threat to the region and beyond, but it likely would trigger a regional arms race.
So, it has been core to the American principle and policy with respect to ensuring Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, this risk that potentially other countries in the region would seek nuclear weapons. That's not something that emerged yesterday in an interview. That has been a feature of the landscape going back many years.
Now, from our perspective, we will do all that is necessary -- and we have said this repeatedly; the President himself has said it -- to ensure that Iran never gets a nuclear weapon so this hypothetical never comes to pass. And that's the stance that we take, and nothing about the comments made yesterday change or alter that.
Q: Thank you so much, Jake. Is it me here or Steve?
MR. SULLIVAN: Yeah, go ahead.
Q: Thank you. Just first of all, does the administration support every part of the 10-part peace formulation that President Zelenskyy is promoting? And if the answer to that is no, which parts might you edit?
And then, secondly, when President Xi hosts President Putin in Beijing next month, what does the White House hope he will communicate to President Putin about the need for peace in Ukraine?
MR. SULLIVAN: Each of the individual elements of the peace plan, if you sat one of them down -- sovereignty and territorial integrity, food security, ecological security, nuclear safety -- to us, it's not even a question of whether we agree. Of course, we do. These are just basic principles of the international system. They're consistent with the U.N. Charter.
And we have said that President Zelenskyy's vision for a just peace is fully consistent with the United Nations Charter and with, kind of, decency and common humanity. So, we have no concerns about any of that.
What President Biden has said is that at the end of the day, the baseline for peace are the core principles of the U.N. Charter, particularly sovereignty and territorial integrity and human rights. That's what we're going to continue to drive at. That's what President Biden and President Zelenskyy will speak about today.
Q: And on Xi -- sorry.
MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, sorry. What was your question?
Q: What do you hope that President Xi will communicate to Putin when they meet in Beijing about the need for peace in Ukraine?
MR. SULLIVAN: The number-one point in -- I can't remember if it's 10 or 12 points in the principles that the PRC has laid out with respect to Russia's invasion of Ukraine is respect for sovereignty, respect for every nation's sovereignty.
So, I would like to see every leader who goes and speaks to President Putin reinforce that that basic proposition is inviolable and that every country, including countries that have better relationships than [with] Russia than we do, are going to stand by that principle as we go forward. That's fundamentally their responsibility.
Q: I had two quick follow-ups. First, with regards to the United States' commitment to Ukraine, there are 26 Republican lawmakers, including 6 senators -- a small minority, as you mentioned before -- who sent a letter to the OMB director saying that they were unaware of just how much the administration has spent thus far in support of Ukraine. They know how much was appropriated, obviously; they don't know how much has been spent thus far. Do you have a general figure you can give us?
MR. SULLIVAN: I'm not going to stand here and give a precise figure. What I will tell you is that we have supplied to the Congress every dollar that has been obligated. So, if they are unaware, it's because they are not looking at the reports that we are submitting to the Hill.
In fact, when I was up on the Hill just a few days ago, I walked through in some detail -- and I don't have the notes in front of me -- exactly what we had spent in the military space.
We've done 47 presidential drawdown packages. We give the dollar figure for every one of them.
We've done USAI packages. We give the dollar figure for every one of them.
We obligate money under economic support funds. That money is notified to the Hill in a public way.
So, you all have access to exactly how much we've spent. The Congress has access to exactly how much we've spent. We have not hidden a single thing on this, and I find the claim in that letter somewhat bizarre.
Q: And then, you reiterated the importance of territorial sovereignty and you noted that in the 21st century, one neighbor cannot be allowed to conquer another. And I think that you -- you got to -- the point you seemed to say that if we were to allow this to happen in Ukraine, it could happen elsewhere. Were you referring, by chance, to any other particular threat in any other theater towards one of our allies?
MR. SULLIVAN: I'm not referring to a particular threat. I'm referring to the fact that history has taught us this lesson painfully many times that aggression unchecked can be aggression unleashed. That could mean further aggression by Russia or it could be aggression by another autocratic power against its neighbor somewhere else in the world, not specifically zeroing in on a particular threat or conflict.
But we have to be prepared for that if we do not stand up and help defend this -- the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Q: Thanks, Jake.
MR. SULLIVAN: Yeah.
Q: Yeah, thanks, Jake. I appreciate you doing this. So, you've laid out how the President is standing up to Russia through action, but largely giving China and India a pass on their aggressions, as well as economic support for Russia. Why is that?
MR. SULLIVAN: Can -- can you repeat the question?
Q: Yeah, sure. You've laid out how -- how the President has been standing for Russia through action. But when it comes to India and China, the President has largely given them a pass for their aggressions as well as the economic support they're giving to Russia. Why is that?
MR. SULLIVAN: What -- what do you mean by "aggression"?
Q: Well, so, for instance, India -- they've made a deal with -- well, economic aggression, I guess -- eight- -- they made a deal with 18 countries to not use dollars to trade in. India has -- is on a U.S. watchlist for intellectual property theft of U.S. companies. India has been -- is part of BRICS. And so, that's what I'm talking about with India.
With China, the aggressions -- the hacking that they've done, the spy balloons, as well as their intellectual property issues.
MR. SULLIVAN: I mean, first of all, we've stood up over -- I -- I'm not sure if your question is about Ukraine or just about other things generically --
Q: It's about China and India.
MR. SULLIVAN: -- and so forth.
Q: I mean, why -- why aren't we seeing the same kind of actions standing up against China and India?
MR. SULLIVAN: I mean, we've taken a variety of actions to protect America's national security vis-à-vis threats from the PRC. You know, we have an entire strategy with respect to our technology export controls to make sure that American technology cannot be used against us.
President Biden, in fact, is the first person to take some of those steps. No previous administration has done so.
And where we have concerns with India, whether it comes to issues related to the very watchlist that you're describing or otherwise, we make those concerns clear. And we defend U.S. interests, as we do with every country in the world.
Now, India is not Russia, and China has its own set of challenges that we deal with in its own context. So, of course, there is going to be differences in how we deal with countries one by one.
But the idea -- the North Star of this administration is: If you represent a threat to the American people's security, prosperity, or basic sense of fairness, we will take action to defend that. I think our record on that -- across multiple countries, including the ones you've mentioned -- is quite clear over the last two and a half years.
Q: Thank you. You -- you're talking about the $24 billion being through the end of this calendar year. You mentioned that you are looking ahead to what comes next. Do you have any projections for how much more will be needed? And is there -- yeah -- do you have projections and can you share them?
MR. SULLIVAN: I will tell you, standing here right now, I'd let the OMB director lay out our budget request to the Congress -- our supplemental request to Congress. I do not do that.
We are working through that and, in fact, trying to have an open and transparent conversation with the Congress on it as well. But I'm going to leave it to the people whose remit it is to -- to lay out our resource requests to Congress to do that. I won't do that for them.
Q: Just back on India quickly. Do you -- do you know whether President Biden intends to speak to Modi about this -- these allegations from the Canadians? And do you see that this incident and -- and that this concern could drive a wedge between the United States and India at this very moment when you're trying to sort of rebuild that relationship?
MR. SULLIVAN: I'm -- I'm not going to get into private diplomatic conversations that have either already happened or are going to happen on this topic, only to say that we have been and will be in contact with the Indians at high levels on this issue.
It -- it is a matter of concern for us. It is something we take seriously. It's something we will keep working on, and we will do that regardless of the country. There is not some special exemption you get for actions like this. Regardless of the country, we will stand up and defend our basic principles. And we will also consult closely with allies like Canada as they pursue their law enforcement and diplomatic process.
Q: On -- on Ukraine -- I'm sorry, just on Ukraine. You -- you've talked about the, sort of, need for, you know, kind of, discussions about what weapons will go and what -- when they will go. There are some members of -- of Congress, some senators who say that there is some sort of equivalency, like, you know, you're not sending ATAC- -- you shouldn't send ATACMS, for instance, or weapons to Ukraine because you should preserve them to send them to Taiwan.
Can you unpack that for us in terms of what the store of weapons that are available, the weapons that can be produced, and whether there are sufficient weapons to respond to eventual needs in other places besides Ukraine?
MR. SULLIVAN: So, when we think about our obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act to continue to provide defensive articles to Taiwan, we take a look at our -- what we have in our inventory and what they put on contract to purchase. Most of what they acquire, of course, is through foreign military sales, which they put on contract to purchase and don't take out of our stocks. So, we look at that.
We obviously look at both what we provide through drawdown to Ukraine and also what we put on contract for purchase to Ukraine through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.
And then we look at what we need -- what we need for any contingency anywhere in the world. And not just in the Indo-Pacific, but in Europe and the Middle East, elsewhere.
And we lay those three considerations out on the table, and we make a determination about whether there are, in fact, trade-offs that -- that would make our life difficult in some way or whether we feel we can manage and balance everything while doing the needful for all of the major contingencies we might face.
We do not think right now that the notion of one-for-one trade-offs in any context is really a rate limiter on us being able to provide support for Ukraine. We think we can provide support for Ukraine and also be in a position to deter aggression elsewhere or respond to it if it takes place.
Q: Does the U.S. --
MR. SULLIVAN: So, we have confidence in that.
Q: Does the U.S. industry need to increase production?
MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. Our view -- just for example, I've stood at this podium before and talked about artillery ammunition. We want to see a dramatic increase in artillery ammunition production. That is underway. It will take some time. We think there are other munitions where additional production, additional capability, and -- and not just for munitions, but critical platforms as well.
We inherited a defense industrial base that -- from a supply chain and workforce and overall capacity perspective -- was not operating at the level we believe it should be operating at. President Biden has given direction, Secretary Austin has given direction to remedy that, and we are actively doing so.
Q: Thank you, Jake. CNN asked Zelenskyy earlier this week if a military breakthrough is possible this year, and his answer was, "I think nobody knows, really." What is the U.S.'s assessment of whether the provision of all of this aid can actually ensure success on the battlefield?
MR. SULLIVAN: Well, let's define "success," kind of stepping back for a moment. Number one: Kyiv stands, Kharkiv stands, Kherson stands. Major cities of Ukraine are not under Russian dom- -- domination and occupation today because, first and foremost, of the bravery of the Ukrainian soldiers on the frontlines and the people -- the Ukrainian people who are supporting them but also, in no small part, because of the material assistance we have provided. And that is a significant fact.
Second, Ukraine is, in fact, taking back territory. It is doing so methodically, step by step. And the weapons that we have provided have allowed them to de-occupy more territory in the last three months than the Russians were able to take in eight months over the course of its fall and winter offensive last year.
So, we will keep at this. And we believe that the weapons we are providing are helping Ukraine not only make forward progress, but also critically defend the territory that they continue to hold against Russian efforts to overrun it and occupy it, because Putin has not given up on his fundamental goal, which is to subjugate the country of Ukraine.
And we will not permit that to happen, and the Ukrainian people will not permit that to happen.
I'll do one more. Yeah.
Q: Thanks, Jake. When President Zelenskyy was here last December, he and President Biden had a joint press conference after their meetings. That's not on the agenda for today. Why was that not scheduled for this visit?
MR. SULLIVAN: So, President Zelenskyy came in from New York. He's going off to other destinations tonight. He has a limited number of hours here. We wanted to make sure that he spent plenty of time on the Hill engaging with Democratic and Republican members, answering their questions, making his case.
And then, President Biden wants plenty of time to sit with him one-on-one in a small group and then with his Cabinet to be able to work through everything. They will have the opportunity to make, I think, two statements to the press during that time.
But we chose how to allocate the time based on what we think is going to generate the best possible results for Ukraine. And -- and President Biden is looking forward to the set of engagements this afternoon.
I'll just say one more thing back to the -- the question of how much assistance that we've provided lest anyone say, "Oh, Jake doesn't know how much assistance we've provided."
This is just off the top of my head, so you can confirm these numbers, but roughly $47 billion in military assistance between PDA and USAI; roughly $1- to $1.5 billion per month in direct budget support that is sent not directly to Ukraine, but to the World Bank so that the World Bank can ensure every amount -- all of the amounts of that aid, those dollars are being appropriately spent; and then in the range of 10-or-so billion dollars being spent for a range of humanitarian, energy, and other purposes to ensure that the basic livelihoods of Ukrainians, their humanitarian needs, basic food security needs, and otherwise are being taken care of.
That's not a precise estimate, because I didn't come bringing this. But I spend my days making sure that we know that every dollar that we're spending is being accounted for effectively and is being shared very much with the Hill and is bearing -- being shared with you all.
And, of course, we will make sure that the members that you've referred to who don't seem to know what we're doing with the aid to Ukraine get the same information that has long been available to everybody else.
And, with that, I'll let you guys have a good day.
Q: Jake, one on the (inaudible) --
Q: Thank you, sir.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks, Jake.
Q: Thank you, Jake.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you so much, Jake. Okay.
Just one thing at the top, and then we'll continue.
Today, extreme House Republicans showed yet again that their chaos is marching us toward a reckless and damaging government shutdown. Extreme House Republicans can't even get an agreement among themselves to keep the government running or to fund the military. They keep demanding more extreme policies as a condition to do their job and keep the government open -- from a fact-free impeachment that their own members -- their own members say isn't supported by the evidence, to severe cuts to food safety, Meals on Wheels, Head Start, education, law enforcement, and much more.
And they're failing to deliver needed funding for communities recovering from disasters, to countering fentanyl trafficking, for food assistance for pregnant mothers and babies, and to support Ukraine.
All this while pushing for more trickle-down tax cuts for billionaires and big corporations, which they did again yesterday in their budget markup.
The solution is very, very simple. Extreme House Republicans need to stop playing political games with people's lives. There's so much at stake here. They should abide by the par- -- bipartisan deal we made in May, which two thirds -- two thirds of House Republicans voted for.
A deal is a deal. House Republicans need to do their job, keep the government open, and work with us to deliver -- to deliver for the American people.
With that, Seung Min.
Q: Thanks. Two quick topics. Has OMB given guidance yet to federal agencies on what they can and can't do in case of a government shutdown?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, don't have any specific -- what that -- what that would look like. But certainly, agencies are looking at how to move forward in case there is a shutdown.
But I will say this, I mean, very plainly: The best plan -- the best plan right now is to not have one -- is to not have a shutdown. House Republicans know exactly what they need to do, which is do their jobs.
Q: Will OMB be sending like guidance this week? I think typically it's sent seven or so days before a shutdown.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, again, I told you that, as I mentioned, agencies are looking at how to move forward in case there is one, but we want to be very clear -- we want to be very clear here -- the ble- -- the best plan is for there to not be a shutdown. This is something that can be avoided here. This is something that House Republicans know very well -- that they have to do their jobs. They're the ones -- they're the ones to fix this problem.
Q: And will the White House send an administration official to the picket lines with those striking UAW workers or would President Biden himself go?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, don't have anything to -- to lay out on -- on any -- as regards to the President's schedule. What I can say is the President is -- is very, I guess -- seeing -- seeing them continue to be at the negotiating table. All parties continuing to be at the negotiating table is a positive. That is important. They've been certainly doing that for the past 24/7.
It is important to have that collective bargaining. The President has been very clear about that. And -- and so, we are going to assist -- the White House, along with the Department of Labor with the -- with the leadership of Acting Secretary Su -- to make sure that they -- we provide assistance or any guidance as it is requested to all parties.
But certainly, we appreciate the fact that they are still at the negotiating table having this this conversation. It is important that we result in a win-win agreement. It is important that UAW workers are certainly being able to have a deal where they could take care of their family, raise their family.
The President is, as you know, pro-union. The President is pro-workers, pro-UAW workers, and that's what we're going to continue to make clear.
Q: Let me just ask you: On the UAW strike, what -- to what extent do you have any kind of leverage to, sort of, lean in with companies? Is the President picking up the phone and speaking with the company executives? And, you know, is there a limit to how much he can -- he can do on that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, you heard from the President -- Andrea, you heard from the President last Friday, where he said -- he said that record corporate profits should lead to record UAW contracts. He was very clear about that. You've heard that from me and you've heard that from others here in the administration. And he's going to obviously continue to get daily briefings from his -- from his team on what is going -- where -- what's going on or where the negotiations are.
And the President has spoken to all parties in the past couple of weeks. And so, he has stayed in touch. He's had those conversation.
But again, the parties are negotiating at the table. That is a positive thing. That is important. They are working 24/7 to get a win-win agreement.
And so, look, I'll just add this. The President fought and won the type of major investment needed -- really, truly needed to ensure that we have a EV future with -- with EVs that are made in America. That is something that the President was able to do.
And let's not forget: The folks who want to repeal this or what we saw in the last administration was certainly not about investments. They -- if anything, they tried to -- to push sending American jobs to China. That's what we've seen them do.
The President is a pro-union president. That's what labor -- labor and -- labor and union have called him and called -- called him as a -- the most pro-union president in this -- ever in this -- in any administration.
And so, we're going to continue to -- continue to be helpful in any way possible as these negotiations continue.
Q: And could you just say a word about the, kind of, negotiations on that to stop the shutdown or, you know, prevent a shutdown?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You're talking about the government shutdown?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look --
Q: Yeah, I was going to ask you -- I know you've got people working on this, but, you know, how severe, how significant do you think the impact would be if there is a shutdown? You know, in the past, these things have been resolved in a few days. So, you know, do you expect that it would have a significant impact or do you think it would be something that could be rolled over?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I appreciate this question. Because what House Republicans are doing is -- would hurt Americans, American families. And we've been very clear: Here are a couple of things that we think that might hurt American families and hurt military families:
Force active-duty military personnel, law enforcement officers to work without pay.
Endanger disaster response, as I said at the top, which will risk FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund and complicate new emergency responses. As we know, FEMA has been very busy these past couple of months dealing with extreme weather, dealing with responses.
Undermine cancer and Alzheimer's research that will delay new clinical trials. That's what we'll see.
If you think about eliminated Head Start slots for 10,000 kids.
Risk significant delays for travelers that we -- that we'll see across the country with air traffic controllers and TSA officers, who would have to work without pay.
Undermine public health. Most EPA hazardous waste and drinking water inspections would stop.
Hurt small businesses. We're talking about SBA would not be able to approve new loans.
And undermine food safety.
So, this is what we think the impacts of the shutdown might be. And look, again, this is something that they can fix. This is something that House Republicans -- these extreme House Republicans, they can fix this. All they have to do is do their jobs.
And let's not forget, we had a deal. We had a bipartisan deal the President led on back in May. A deal is a deal.
Q: Thanks, Karine. Speaker McCarthy said today he would be, quote, "more than willing" to look at the $24 billion request for Ukraine aid if the President first looks at their Republican border bill that they put forward. What's your response to that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You know, there is no conversation to be had because the deal was made already back in May, as I just stated to Andrea. There was a deal that the -- that the Speaker and the President came together on to move forward on behalf of the American people, that Republicans voted on, that Democrats voted on.
You know, a deal is a deal. There is no discussion to be had. There's no discussion to be had. And I just am not going to negotiate from here, obviously. But we made a deal in May. We did. Something that American people want to see -- they want to see both sides coming together, actually -- actually delivering on matters that -- that are important to them. So, this could be fixed by them -- by them, not by us. We made a deal already, and that was back in May.
Q: Maybe you can tell us about tomorrow's schedule?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have -- I don't have anything to share at this moment on tomorrow's schedule. Certainly, we'll have that out for all of you later today.
Go ahead, Peter.
Q: Karine, the --
Q: Thank --
Q: -- the administration said yesterday it was granting temporary legal status to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans. At the same time, the city of Eagle Pass in the Rio Grande has announced a state of emergency because of immigrants surge. Is there any concern that the timing of this Venezuelan TPS announcement might exacerbate what's happening in Eagle Pass right now? And -- and, you know, essentially, is this going to make the situation in Eagle Pass worse?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we have worked very hard -- the President have worked very -- very hard to pleme- -- implement a strategy, when it comes to the border, that is humane, safe, and has orderly enforcement. That is something that we have tried to do and worked really hard to do these last two years.
I do want to add a couple of things that we also announced yesterday, as you -- just to note -- I'm sure you know -- which is escalating the fight against smuggling and trafficking by prosecuting an increasing number of smugglers as well as non-citizens who are violating our laws. Right? This is an announcement we made yesterday.
Also, in deploying 800 new active-duty military personnel to support border efforts and get CBP agents and officer out in the field. This is up to -- up to -- this on top of the 2,500 National Guard personnel also deployed.
And expanding the Fentanyl [Family] Expedited Removal Management.
So, those are three other pieces that we announced, as well as the Venezuela TPS yesterday.
Let's not forget the 24,000 CBP agents and officers along the southwest border.
So, we have taken steps without the help of -- of Republicans in Congress to do everything that we can to deal with this issue.
And let's not forget what the Republicans proposed. Their continuing resolution would lead 800 CBP agents and officers being fired and (inaudible) 50,000 pounds of cocaine, more than 300 pounds of fentanyl, more than 700 pounds of heroin, and more than 6,000 pounds of -- of other drugs to -- to enter the country.
That is what they proposed just a day -- a day ago. And that's what that would do to the -- to the border; it would hurt and harm and not deal with the issue.
So, they are doing the opposite of what the President is trying to do -- is actually move forward in a way that is humane, safe, and has an orderly enforcement pathway process here.
Q: Thanks, Karine. So, what do you call it here at the White House when 10,000 people illegally cross the border in a single day?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, what do you call it, Peter, when GOP puts forth a -- wait, no --
Q: Asking are you --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, no, no, no, no, no, you can't --
Q: Karine --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm answering.
Okay, we're going to move on.
Q: You're answering a question --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, no, no, no --
Q: -- with a question.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, no, no --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, no, no -- no, no, no. We're moving on.
Q: Karine, please --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We're moving. In the back. Go ahead.
Q: You said he was stopping the --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead. Go ahead, in the back.
Q: -- flow at the border.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, no --
Q: Ten thousand migrants --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- I tried to answer. Peter --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- I tried to answer the question, and you stopped me.
Let's go. Go ahead, (inaudible).
Q: So, there was footage yesterday of Border Patrol cutting some of the razor wire that Texas had installed. Governor Abbott has vowed to reinstall it. They have pic- -- his border czar has pictures of people taking fresh razor wire out to the border to reinstall it.
Is there now a federal policy of removing the barriers that Texas is installing?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, here's -- here's --
Q: And why?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Here's what I -- I'll say: I would have to look into that. I did so -- see those reports yesterday.
But as it relates to Governor Abbott, we know what he has done this past -- these past couple of years while this President has been in office. He's -- he's turned this -- when it comes to the border, he's turned this into a political stunt. And that's what he's done over and over again. That's what I can speak to.
I did see those reports. I would have to go back and get a sense from the team and give you a bett- -- an answer on that.
Q: And there's an enormous amount of concern. The mayor of Eagle Pass tells us at least 5,000 people crossed probably yesterday or in the last two days -- maybe a lot more.
What -- I mean, you've already talked a little bit, but what --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q: -- resources, specific to this surge, are being --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I just laid out --
Q: -- kind of, (inaudible).
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I just laid out three additional announcement that we did to deal with -- to deal with the border that we announced yesterday. We announced the TPS Venezuela announcement as well, yesterday.
And so, this is a president, again, that has taken -- that has taken action without the help of -- of Republicans in Congress. He has taken action over and over again to deal with this issue.
But let's not forget -- and you know this very well, having -- having -- as you're covering that region -- that this is an issue that's been around for decades. This is a broken immigration system. This is why the President, on his first day, put forth a comprehensive piece of legislation to try to deal with this immigration system.
We've put more -- we've put CBP 25- -- 24-, 25,000 CBP agents out there. We try to make sure that we deal with the smuggling that's happening. We've tried to make sure that we continue to deal with this in a humane, orderly way, and that's what we're going to continue to promise to do.
Again, we just announced three more additional enforcement pathways or ways to move forward on this.
And so, the President is going to continue to do what he can from -- from the -- from -- from this administration.
Q: Thanks, Karine. I'm going to stay, actually, with the border. How many people coming into this country illegally is enough for President Biden?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Say that last part.
Q: How many people come -- how many people illegally coming into the United States is enough for President Biden's administra- --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't what that -- what do you --
Q: Well, five point --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Enough for what?
Q: Five point nine million people have -- have been encountered --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I know --
Q: -- illegally at --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I know the numbers, but enough for what?
Q: Enough -- just to stop the flood.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: As I mentioned, this is a problem that's been around for some time now -- for decades -- a broken system. The President has done everything and is going to continue what -- to do what he can, without the help of some Republicans on -- in -- in Congress to deal with this issue.
And I just laid out what he has done over the past two years -- right? -- 24,000 CBP agents and officers along the southwest border. This is more -- a historic number -- more than any other -- any other president has been able to do. We're -- and that's 26- -- 2,600 additional civilian personnel, those are going to be helpful in dealing with the issue -- increase border-holding capacity by 3,750 to 22,700.
And so, we're going to deal -- we're trying to deal with the smuggling issues that we're seeing as well at -- on the border. So, the President is going to continue to do the work. He made some announcement on -- as well yesterday, as I just mentioned.
And so, look, we're going to continue to implement a strategy that is humane, that is safe, and that is orderly as it relates to enforcement. And so, that is a promise that you can see from this president.
Again, GOP -- the Republicans put up a continuing resolution that actually reverses the work that the President is trying to do -- makes it -- the situation worse. That's what they were trying to push.
And so, look, we would love to do it in a bipartisan way and really fix this issue that's been around for some time now. But right now, the President is doing it on his own.
Q: Thanks, Karine. Will we see the President try and get directly involved in trying to avert this possible government shutdown? And will he be speaking with Speaker McCarthy? And if so, what's his message?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, the President talks often to members of Congress. That is something that he does pretty regularly -- that is -- and something that he will continue to do. I don't have any conversations to lay out.
But I said this moments ago -- right? -- which is the President and the Speaker came to a deal in May. This is not for us to fix. This is for House Republicans to fix -- the extreme House Republicans. This is on them.
There is a deal -- a deal is a deal -- that they voted on in a bipartisan way. It is up to them to fix this.
The message is very clear. What he says in private is certainly what -- what he says in private is the same as what he says publicly, which is there is no reason for Republicans to shut down the government. House Republicans should stop their partisan games and keep their promises and also do their jobs. That's the message that the President is sending.
Q: Given everything you've laid out, why is there so much confidence from Jake Sullivan and other members of the Biden administration that this additional funding to Ukraine will get approved?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, look, I mean, you've heard us say this before: We truly appreciate the -- the strong bipartisan support that we have seen over the -- over the past several months for -- for Ukraine.
And it's not just us. It's coming -- it came from our allies and our partners -- right? -- which has been able to give Ukrainian -- the Ukrainian people the -- the opportunity to fight and -- and be successful in the battlefield.
And so, it is important -- we think it's incredibly important that we continue to give them the support that they need. You heard from the President in the halls of the U.N., at UNGA, just a day or two ago, speaking about the stakes, the importance of making sure that we continue to help the Ukrainians as they fight for their democracy.
That hasn't changed; the stakes are still very high. It's important to continue that support. We've made that very clear. Again, you heard directly from the President on -- just a day or so ago. And so, we're going to continue to make that very clear.
And so, look, there was strong bipartisan support. Jake actually laid out some of his conversation and what he -- the feedback that he was getting when he was on the Hill.
And so, we're going to continue to be optimistic about this, because it is incredibly important. We're talking about democracy here.
I'll call on -- go ahead, Gabe. Welcome to the briefing room.
Q: Good to be here, Karine. Thanks so much. I want to go back to immigration. In addition to Eagle Pass, El Paso is also seeing a new influx as well. I understand your comments about being a broken immigration system, but the administration also took credit following the end of Title 42 for the drop in border crossing numbers. Is it now taking responsibility for the rise in numbers?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, here --
Q: And --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, I'm sorry.
Q: Go --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Gabe. I'm so sorry. Finish -- finish your -- finish your --
Q: Yeah, and then, secondly, you mentioned those 800 new troops that are going down to the border. Do you think that'll be enough?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, it's on top of what we have done already in the past two years under this administration.
Look, every year, as you know, Gabe -- I know you follow this very closely -- U.S. sees ebbs and flows of migrants arriving, fueled by seasonal trends, as you know, and efforts of smugglers to encourage -- encourage migration. That is something that we see over and over again. And -- and so, certainly that plays into this.
And so -- and I -- and I understand your question, but here's the thing: As you know, the President has taken action upon action to try and deal with what is happening at the border -- historic action, without the help of Congress.
And so, we have asked over and over again to do this in a bipartisan way, which is why the President -- his first piece of legislation was to deal with the immigration system and he want -- and understanding how critical that is -- it was to do that.
And so, we have taken actions. We have taken multiple actions.
But again, this happens. It ebbs and flows. That's what we see at the border, for different trends, for different reasons.
And so, we made -- I think -- we think, three important enforcement -- enforcement announcement yesterday. It's on top of what we've been able to do.
And, you know -- you know, and then you see -- and you see it for yourself what Congress has tried to do: put forth a piece of legislation -- a CR, a resolution -- that does the opposite of what we're trying to do when we're trying to fight fentanyl -- right? -- when we're trying to deal with smugglers, when we're trying to put more -- more legal -- legal enforcement at the border. They're trying to reverse that. And so, that is the reality that we're dealing with.
And so, the President is going to continue to be committed, make sure we do this in a humane way, make sure that we do this in a safe and orderly fashion. And that's the commitment that the President has to the American people.
Q: You -- there's a lot of focus in here about what's happening at the border and what the White House can do with Congress to solve that problem. The one thing the White House can do on its own is foreign policy.
Who's talking to Venezuela about why these people are still coming? Who's talking to Panama about the Darién Gap and who's allowing them to come in?
And whatever happened to those State Department and Spain and Canada centers that were going to be set up along the route --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So on the last --
Q: -- to make sure that people would have options?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All very good questions. Clearly, the centers, I would -- we would get more information for you on that.
But, look, these diplomatic conversations are incredibly important. You heard from the National Security Advisor. These are conversation that Blinken is having -- the Secretary of State is having.
The President, let's not forget, just last fall, brought -- brought 20, 21 -- 22 countries together to talk about what's -- how migration is affecting the region. And remember, they signed a declaration.
Look, these diplomatic conversations will continue. It is not an easy -- easy issue to deal with. Right? But they're going to continue what -- the point that I'm making and the point that I think you all have -- some of you have reported on: This is a president that has taken historic action on an issue, on a system that has been broken for some time.
And we have been very clear: We would like to do this in a bipartisan way. We'd like to do it with the help of Republicans. But right now we are doing it in the best way that we can: diplomatic -- taking diplomatic actions, as you just laid out, right?; having those conversations; seeing how we can work with this issue. Because it's a regional issue. This is a West Hemisphere issue, right?
And so, we're going to continue to do tho- -- to do that, and also make announcements like we did yesterday to deal with what's going on at the border.
All right. I'll get --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. All right. I'll take one more question for some -- go ahead.
Q: Thanks, Karine. The President is expected to announce a new Office for Gun Violence Prevention to coordinate the administration's efforts. This obviously has been a proposal that's been on the table for years from advocates. And this White House has always maintained that this falls under the Domestic Policy Council.
I'm wondering if you could just tell us why the White House has agreed to accept this proposal now since advocates have been pushing for it since the transition.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I'm going to be very careful here. And certainly, as you know, we are going to give -- the President and the Vice President are going to give remarks on gun safety tomorrow. So I'm going to let them speak to this. So, don't have anything to share on this at this time. So, I would tell you to stay tuned.
But, you know, look, in a much broader sense here, the President has said, "Gun violence is an epidemic." There are many people who are sitting around their kitchen table every night who are missing their loved ones because of gun violence, because of what it's doing to their community.
It is -- you know, when you hear stats of guns being the number-one killer of kids, that is something that we should really be mindful to and do something about that. That's why the President has taken the actions that he has -- historical executive actions -- to deal with this issue. That's why it was important that we saw bipartisan support to deal with gun violence.
But that's the reality. That's the reality that communities are dealing with. And the President is going to try to do everything that he can to deal with this epidemic.
I'm certainly not going to get ahead of the President. You all will hear from the President and the Vice President tomorrow on their gun -- on their gun safety announcement, and we'll see you all tomorrow.
2:17 P.M. EDT
Joseph R. Biden, Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/365284