Zelenskyy makes case for more aid to US Congress as support under strain – National

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy returned to Washington on Thursday for a whirlwind one-day visit, this time facing the Republicans now questioning the flow of American dollars that for 19 months has helped keep his troops in the fight against Russian forces.

Zelenskyy arrived at the Capitol to talk privately with Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate as the world is watching Western support for Kyiv. He will also meet with President Joe Biden at the White House and will speak with U.S. military leaders at the Pentagon.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries escorted Zelenskyy into the Capitol. House Republican leaders, who promised tough questions for Zelenskyy on his plans for the way forward for Ukraine’s war effort, notably chose not to join in greeting the Ukrainian president before the cameras.

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul said Zelenskyy’s message for House lawmakers Thursday was “that he’s winning.”

Story continues below advertisement

Speaking to reporters, McCaul stressed “The majority of the majority support this,” but said there had to be confidence in a clear strategy for victory for Ukraine.

“War of attrition is not going to win this,” McCaul said. “That’s what Putin wants. He wants to break the will of the American people and the Europeans.”

Click to play video: 'Zelenskyy demands UN Security Council strip Russia of veto power'

Zelenskyy demands UN Security Council strip Russia of veto power

Zelenskyy is also expected to make an appearance in Ottawa and Toronto on Friday, sources have confirmed to Global News.

It is Zelenskyy’s second visit to Washington since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 and comes as Biden’s request to Congress for an additional $24 billion for Ukraine’s military and humanitarian needs is hanging in the balance. Back home, Russia launched its heaviest strikes in a month in the hours before Zelenskyy’s arrival at Congress, killing three, igniting fires and damaging energy infrastructure as Russian missiles and artillery pounded cities across Ukraine.

Story continues below advertisement

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby called the Ukrainian president “our best messenger” in persuading U.S. lawmakers to keep vital U.S. money and weapons coming.

“It’s really important for members of Congress to be able to hear directly from the president about what he’s facing in this counteroffensive,” Kirby told reporters Wednesday, “and how he’s achieving his goals, and what he needs to continue to achieve those goals.”

Biden has called on world leaders to stand strong with Ukraine, even as he faces domestic political divisions at home. A hard-right flank of Republicans, led by former President Donald Trump, Biden’s chief rival in the 2024 race for the White House, is increasingly opposed to sending more money overseas.

As the White House worked to shore up support for Ukraine before Zelenskyy’s visit, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and top intelligence officials briefed senior lawmakers behind closed doors Wednesday to argue the case.

Zelenskyy faces challenges in Europe as well as cracks emerge in what had been a largely united Western alliance behind Ukraine.

Late Wednesday, Poland’s prime minister said his country is no longer sending arms to Ukraine, a comment that appeared aimed at pressuring Kyiv and put Poland’s status as a major source of military equipment in doubt as a trade dispute between the neighbouring states escalates.

Click to play video: 'Zelenskyy urges global unity against Russia at UN'

Zelenskyy urges global unity against Russia at UN

Zelenskyy’s visit comes with U.S. and world government leaders watching as Ukrainian forces struggle to take back territory that Russia gained over the past year. Their progress in the next month or so before the rains come and the ground turns to mud could be critical to rousing additional global support over the winter. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who believes he can outlast allied backing for Kyiv, will be ready to capitalize if he sees Ukraine is running low on air defense or other weapons

Story continues below advertisement

Since the start of the war, most members of Congress supported approving four rounds of aid to Ukraine, totaling about $113 billion, viewing defense of the country and its democracy as an imperative, especially when it comes to containing Putin. Some of that money went toward replenishing U.S. military equipment sent to the frontlines.

Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona, who traveled to Kyiv this week, said cutting off U.S. aid during the Ukrainians’ counteroffensive would be “catastrophic” to their efforts.

“That would clearly be the opening that Putin is looking for,” Kelly said Wednesday. “They cannot be successful without our support.”

The political environment has shifted markedly since Zelenskyy addressed Congress last December on his first trip out of Ukraine since the war began. He was met with rapturous applause for his country’s bravery and surprisingly strong showing in the war.

His meeting with senators on Thursday took place behind closed doors in the Old Senate Chamber, a historic and intimate place of importance at the U.S. Capitol, signifying the respect the Senate is showing the foreign leader.

The Ukrainian leader received a warmer welcome from both parties on his stop in the Senate, with both Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Leader Chuck Schumer flanking him as he walked in. A few lawmakers of both parties wore clothes with blue and yellow, the color of the Ukrainian flag.

Story continues below advertisement

Click to play video: 'Ukraine’s Zelenskyy accuses Russia of genocide in 1st in-person UN appearance since invasion began'

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy accuses Russia of genocide in 1st in-person UN appearance since invasion began

But on the other side of the Capitol, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who faces more opposition within his Trump-aligned ranks to supporting Ukraine, hled a separate meeting with Zelenskyy, with a smaller bipartisan group of lawmakers and committee chairmen.

“I will have questions for President Zelenskyy,” McCarthy told reporters before the visit.

The House speaker said he wanted more accountability for the money the U.S. has already approved for Ukraine before moving ahead with more.

And, McCarthy said, he wants to know, “What is the plan for victory?”

In the Senate, however, Ukraine has a strong ally in Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who is out front in pushing his party, and the president, to continue robust support for Kyiv.

Story continues below advertisement

McConnell urged Biden before Wednesday’s closed-door briefing to senators to make sure the administration’s top brass puts forward a more forceful case in support of Ukraine so Congress can send Zelenskyy what’s needed to win the war.

“I sometimes get the sense that I speak more about Ukraine matters than the president does,” McConnell said in a speech Wednesday.

Source link

Denial of responsibility! insideheadline is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.