For months, Ukrainian fighters have been hopelessly outgunned by the Russian invaders in its unprovoked war, forcing them to cede further territory and dimming morale all while US Congress dithered.

Fears of Ukraine losing the war due to weapon shortages began reaching a fever pitch. But on Saturday, the House of Representatives finally overcame the standstill and passed $60.8 billion in desperately needed aid.

With the Senate and President Biden poised to greenlight the package, perhaps now the big question is whether that fresh round of aid is too little too late. What took so long?

Congress last approved a significant tranche of new aid for Ukraine in December 2022 for roughly $45 billion.

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) opposed it at the time, when it came as part of a broader $1.66 trillion spending omnibus, days before Republicans officially retook the chamber.

By August of last year, President Biden reached out to Congress for more assistance to Ukraine  $13 billion for defense and $8 billion for humanitarian cases something that was merely intended to get Kyiv through until the end of the year.

Needless to say, that didn’t happen. 7 President Biden sought a new round of aid for Ukraine in August of last year. Getty Images

Growing conservative antipathy toward foreign aid for Ukraine, bitter infighting amongst House Republicans, an overthrow of the speaker, the Israel-Hamas war, and a protracted fight over spending all stood in the way.

“The Ukrainians began demonstrating clear signs of having run low on critical munitions in late 2023, around November, December,” George Barros, who leads the Russia Team at the Institute for the Study of War told The Post.

“The Ukrainians really needed this aid, not today, but they needed it six months ago.”

As Ukrainians struggled on the battlefield, political paralysis and partisanship gripped the US. Johnson was catapulted to the speakership out of the blue — without any experience at the top of the party –and given a terrible hand to play. 7 Speaker Mike Johnson gambled with his grip on the gavel to push through aid for Ukraine. AP

He was forced to put out political fires on various legislative fights such as spending and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Johnson opted to tackle those before the thorny issue of Ukraine aid, which divided his party.

“We had a lot of important measures that had to be done and we got to this as quickly as we could. This is an important matter,” Johnson told reporters Saturday when asked if aid came too late.

“I think we did our work here and history will judge it well.” Is this enough aid for Ukraine?

Top officials seem to think so  at least through the end of the year.

With the boost that would come from military assistance, both practically and psychologically, Ukrainians are entirely capable of holding their own through 2024 and puncturing Putins arrogant view that time is on his side, CIA Director William Burns told Congress last week.

But if Congress failed to approve the aid, Burns warned there was a “real risk” Ukraine could lose by the end of the year or that Russia would be in a position to “essentially dictate the terms of a political settlement.”

“This was massively needed, but it’s not a silver bullet,” Nicholas Locker, a research associate for the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security cautioned The Post.

Locker explained that 2024 had been widely expected to be a tough year for Ukraine, but that the setbacks on the battlefield — which the delay in aid helped cause — pose considerable obstacles for Ukraine. 7 Mitch McConnell has groaned about the growing isolationist forces within the Republican Party. Getty Images

On top of that is the US’s own shortcoming in producing critical munitions needed for protracted ground warfare due to industrial decay.

Russia is also widely expected to embark on a massive counteroffensive within the coming weeks. Locker is hopeful that the batch of aid will help Ukraine survive until next year, by which point munition production may ramp up considerably.

“The aid will be enough to hold Ukraine down for the remainder of this year, for sure,” Barros predicted. “It might even carry them a little bit into 2025.”

Some analysts believe the prior batch of $45 billion that was approved in 2022 kept Ukraine going somewhat strong until around October of last year roughly 10 months.

But no one knows for sure how long it will keep Ukraine afloat. 7 Ukraine has faced hurdles in planning out its defense due, in part, to the inconsistent levels of aid from the US. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE/AFP via Getty Images Can Ukraine still win?

Ukraine defied many expectations, even within the US, of its immediate demise once Russian tanks began rolling in, but their fortunes have since taken a turn for the worse.

The Kremlin now is firing as much as 10 times more artillery and 30 times more aircraft than Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky recently estimated.

In February, Ukraine was forced to retreat from the eastern city of Avdiivka, a defeat they attributed to munition shortages. All of this has also eroded Ukrainian morale. Explore More Ukraine will be America’s next Vietnam, Russia says after House passes massive aid bill NY Dem congressional hopeful slammed for ‘die MAGA die’ message after Ukraine aid vote GOP hardliners retool for fresh push to oust Speaker Mike Johnson after Ukraine aid bill defeat

Ukraine has recently moved to lower the conscription age to 17 but has grappled with scores of young men trying to get out of the war.

“We have a lot of people who are ready to protect the motherland. But of course the motivation, the morale can go down, especially when they go to the front line and they see that, well, there are no shells. There is no equipment,” Zelensky told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

But there have been some silver linings. Ukraine claims to have decimated about a third of Russia’s warships in the Black Sea, for example, despite their struggles on land and in air. 7 Ukrainians have been severely outgunned by the Russians. REUTERS

Some critics of the replenished aid package have contended that Ukraine can’t win.

“There’s not a clear consensus on the definition of victory,” Locker said, noting that he feels the chances of Ukraine winning certainly increased now that Ukraine aid cleared the lower chamber.

“I define Ukrainian winning as the Ukrainians liberating their territory, going back to their legal pre-2014 borders, including Crimea. I do think that’s still militarily possible,” Barros said.

“It’s entirely predicated on there being consistent, transparent aid for Ukraine moving forward, though.” 

Ukraine also has a considerable manpower deficit relative to Russia which dwarfs its population by 144 million to roughly 38 million, per Worldometer. Start your day with all you need to know

Morning Report delivers the latest news, videos, photos and more. Thanks for signing up! Enter your email address

Please provide a valid email address.

By clicking above you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Never miss a story. Check out more newslettes

Given all these dynamics, some top foreign policy voices have been skeptical that Ukraine will be able to recapture all of its lost territory.

“Neither side is going to be able to achieve victory as defined in the most idealistic terms,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee said last month.

Instead, Rubio believes the US’s goal should be to strengthen Ukraine’s hand so that it can negotiate the most favorable terms possible. Cloud of uncertainty over future aid

One major factor undermining Ukraine’s war planning is the fact that the flow of US aid has been uneven.

“The approach that we’ve had so far has been, we’re going to leapfrog from emergencyto emergency, wait for the situation to become extremely dire, then surge a whole bunch ofmateriel in this too-little-too-late manner and then sit on our hands,” Barros said. 7 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has expressed gratitude for the new batch of aid. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE/AFP via Getty Images

“It doesn’t allow the Ukrainians to properly plan how to conduct protracted defense … because they don’t know what’s going to be coming down for them in terms of resources.”

Further complicating things is deep uncertainty over what the balance of power will be in Washington after the Nov. 5 election.

Johnson could face a mutiny over the Ukraine aid fight and there are questions over what former President Donald Trump would do with Ukraine if he were to win the presidency.

He has previously said he does [back aid to Ukraine] BUT only in the form of a loan, Trump campaign national spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt told The Post. Russia’s military grows powerful

One advantage that Russia could gain from the war in Ukraine is that its military has now been battle-tested for protracted ground warfare in the modern era.

“No NATO member has any combat experience the likes of which the Russians are currently gaining in Ukraine,” Barros warned.

Unlike past ground warfare, the Ukraine war has been subject to the age of hyper-transparent battlefields in which drones, social media, and more can give real-time data on the opposing side making the element of surprise difficult to achieve.

“The Ukrainians demonstrated that even the best Western minds don’t have the military doctrinal or the technological solutions to be able to figure out how to restore maneuver to this battlefield,” he added. 7 A projection on the possible outlook for Eastern European security in the event of Russia winning the war in Ukraine. ISW/AEI CRITICAL THREATS PROJECT

Moreover, while Russia may have racked up high levels of casualties and the losses of its equipment, the war could turbocharge its defense industry’s output — rendering its military far more lethal in a matter of years.

“The US and the West need to see Ukraine as the first line of defense,” Locker stressed.

He ominously predicted that if Russia wins, it could become emboldened to pursue additional territory after Ukraine, a scenario that many Western leaders fear.

Diana Glebova contributed reporting to this report.