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    House of Representatives passed package for Ukraine: Importance of Duda-Trump conversation highlighted

    What influenced the decision of the US House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson regarding support for Kyiv? Was it the meeting between President Andrzej Duda and Donald Trump, dramatic intelligence reports about the situation in Ukraine, or perhaps prayer? A little-known politician has now become the “speaker of free times,” and at the same time, a key player on the political stage.

    When the House of Representatives passed a $60 billion package for Ukraine on Saturday after months of deadlock, it was mainly due to one man, who since February has almost single-handedly held the fate of American support in his hands – Speaker Johnson. To bring about the vote, Johnson had to go against a significant portion of his party, and make amends with Democrats, risking sharing the fate of his predecessor Kevin McCarthy, who was removed from his position.

    For his decision, Johnson received praise from unexpected quarters: US President Joe Biden personally thanked him, as did Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries. CNN called the Speaker of the House “the unexpected Churchill,” and Axios wrote about his “historic conversion on the road to Kyiv.”

    This is a significant change for the 52-year-old lawyer from Louisiana, as his path to bringing the Ukraine package to a vote was long and winding. Johnson, who voted twice against money for Ukraine before becoming speaker, had always announced in interviews from the outset that he would “not abandon Ukraine” and would not allow Putin to “march through Europe.” However, since October 2023, he had always found reasons not to deal with this issue. He argued that the more pressing issue was aid to Israel, demanded a “clear strategy” from the White House to win the war and tighter control over the aid offered, and claimed that before America helps Ukraine, it must secure its own borders. For weeks, he also claimed to be “considering all options” regarding Ukraine.

    In a press conference on April 17, described by some commentators as “Churchillian,” Johnson stated that a “critical time” had come, through which history would judge him.

    “I could make a selfish decision and do something else. But I’m doing what I believe is right. (…) I truly believe that Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, and Iran are the new axis of evil (…). This is not a joke. We cannot play politics with this.” he declared.

    What prompted this change? According to Adam Smith, a Democratic congressman and vice-chair of the House Armed Services Committee, Johnson was swayed by increasingly dramatic intelligence reports on the seriousness of the situation on the Russian-Ukrainian war front.

    “The Speaker has been aware for some time that our time is running out. It helped that he spoke with President (Volodymyr) Zelensky. I also know he spoke with many people from intelligence, so he knew how desperate the situation was.” Smith assessed.

    He also noted that Johnson’s delay contributed to the worsening situation.

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