You know that old saying about being able to walk and chew gum at the same time? Julianne Smith, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, is living it as the U.S. pledges support to both Israel and Ukraine.

Who is she? Smith has been the ambassador to NATO since 2021.

  • She is in Brussels and attended two meetings last week: the normal NATO defense ministerial that includes defense ministers from all member states; and the Ukraine Defense Contact Group (UDCG), which includes more than 50 countries, and meets to discuss what Ukrainian requirements look like that particular month.

What is the latest?

  • The U.S. now finds itself trying to stand with Israel as it prepares for a ground war in Gaza, and also continuing to stand with Ukraine as war there grinds on.
  • Smith makes the case that, based on the discussions at those two meetings in Brussels, the U.S. has the capacity to do both.
  • Her reassurance comes after a senior NATO official said Western weapon stockpiles are nearing "the bottom of the barrel." In response, Smith told All Things Considered: "We've had 16 of these UDCG meetings, and each and every time, Ukraine walks away with additional forms of assistance. It does not mean that it's always easy."
  • At the same time, U.S. support of Ukraine requires commitment and money that's approved by a Congress that is currently in paralysis without a speaker. Congress also just excluded support for Ukraine in the temporary budget deal, which expires next month. 

Listen to the Consider This episode on how Palestinians appear to have been killed in reprisal attacks in the West Bank.

What is Smith saying?

Smith spoke to All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly this week. Here's what she said.

On whether aiding both Ukraine and Israel comes at the expense of the United States' own military readiness:

President Biden has been very clear on this. First and foremost, he said that the United States does indeed have the capacity to help Ukraine defend against Russian aggression and help our friends in Israel. And not only does the United States have the capacity to do that, but the United States has an obligation to do so, and it will not come at the expense of our own national defense.

On whether U.S. Congress paralysis and the temporary budget deal make it harder for her to plan:

We see deep bipartisan support for Ukraine on Capitol Hill. That will not change. We're confident that we will be able to get additional forms of assistance for our friends in Ukraine going forward. We also have resources right now from which to draw so that support can continue to flow. And that's an important way to also signal to not only the Ukrainians, but also the Russians, that they can't simply wait us out.

What now?

Lean more:

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