Meanwhile, Mr. Biden’s aides are trying to figure out how to pay for weapons if Congress remains paralyzed. The plan to seize Russian assets has complications. It’s not clear that the reserves could be used to pay for air defense and artillery. Even that, administration officials say, could require congressional action — though presumably there are more votes in the House and Senate for spending Russia’s money than spending the United States’.
There is also discussion of conducting complex weapons swaps, similar to what Japan and South Korea have done, where they have provided their artillery shells to the United States, freeing up Washington to give more to Ukraine. (Both countries have said they could not export directly to a war zone.) Or, perhaps, have European nations pay for American weapons and ship those to Ukraine.
But Europe clearly doesn’t have the capacity to provide much more ammunition by itself. During the 30 years of increasingly uneasy peace with Russia, Europe dismantled much of its production capability. Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said in a recent speech that “we will have delivered over half a million rounds of artillery shells by next month” and “more than one million by the end of the year,” but she acknowledged that “this is certainly not enough.”
Europe also has little to contribute to drone manufacturing. And Germany remains unwilling to turn over its most powerful long-range, air-launched cruise missile, the Taurus, for fear it will be used deep inside Russian territory. Germany’s role is bound to be at the center of a meeting between Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Mr. Biden at the White House on Friday.
Mr. Sullivan, for his part, insists that if the administration sticks to its strategy, it will prevail. “Walking away from Ukraine at this moment, at this time, would be fundamentally wrong for the basic national security of the United State and for our NATO allies, as well,’’ he said on Wednesday. “And we think we will continue to win that argument.”
Steven Erlanger contributed reporting from Oslo.