On visit to Washington, Zelensky tries to gather critical support | ET REALITY


President Biden told President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine on Thursday that the United States would “stand by you” as it continues its grinding war with Russia, even as a growing faction of the Republican Party has threatened to delay aid that Zelensky said could It cost his country the war.

Zelensky’s second wartime visit to Washington was spent visiting the Capitol, the Pentagon and, finally, the White House, in a broad call for more weapons. Along the way, she carried a grim warning. During a meeting on Capitol Hill with dozens of senators, Zelensky said Ukraine would lose the war without the aid, according to Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader.

At the White House, Biden said the United States would begin shipping Abrams tanks, which the Ukrainians had long sought and were part of an existing commitment, next week. He also acknowledged that he had no choice but to have faith in a bipartisan breakthrough to continue supporting Ukraine.

“I count on the good judgment of the United States Congress,” Biden said. “No alternative”.

Zelensky’s visit came as polls have shown growing war fatigue among the American public, and as dozens of Republicans say they oppose Biden’s latest request to Congress for $24 billion in additional aid for Ukraine. . Biden has countered Republican concerns and promised that the United States – by far Ukraine’s largest military financier among its Western allies – will remain in kyiv for the long term.

Congress has already approved $113 billion in military, economic, humanitarian and other aid to Ukraine, including about $70 billion for security, intelligence and other war costs. Biden on Thursday released a new military package, valued at about $325 million from existing funding, that includes what officials called important air defense capabilities.

Zelensky hoped the Americans would provide a powerful weapon called the Army Tactical Missile System, known as ATACMS, which can strike targets 190 miles away with a warhead containing about 375 pounds of explosives.

Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, told reporters that Biden would not provide ATACMS now, but has not ruled it out for the future.

To maintain the flow of ammunition for Ukraine’s offensive operations, the Pentagon will also send more guided artillery rockets and artillery shells.

The armament did not offer new capabilities that had not already been supplied to Kiev, but relied heavily on providing more ammunition for air defense and artillery attacks that are in high demand on the battlefield.

Zelensky said the package is “exactly what our soldiers need now.”

Biden said the new military aid package showed the United States’ commitment to helping Ukraine over the long term.

“We are with you,” Biden said, “and we will stay with you.”

Washington has changed in the nine months since Zelensky was last here to deliver a joint address to Congress. At the time, Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brandished a Ukrainian flag signed by soldiers on the front lines. Biden, who harbored serious doubts about Zelensky’s longevity as leader at the start of the invasion, had begun greeting the Ukrainian leader like an old friend during regular phone calls. Biden secretly visited kyiv in February.

These days, Republicans control the House, which has recently descended into chaos as lawmakers appear unwilling to agree to pass spending legislation that would avert a government shutdown. And the insurgent members are threatening to relieve Chairman Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., of his gavel.

In a show of bipartisan courtesy, Zelensky, dressed in dark olive fatigues, was escorted through the Capitol during his visit by Schumer and Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader.

“American support for Ukraine is not charity,” McConnell, the minority leader, said in a statement. “It is in our own direct interest, especially since demoting Russia helps deter China.”

McCarthy, who is under pressure to take a hard line amid demands for spending cuts in his group, had a private meeting with Zelensky on Thursday and both men were cordial. But he has also publicly questioned support for the war.

“Where is the responsibility for the money we already spent?” McCarthy asked reporters this week. “What is the plan for victory? “I think that’s what the American public wants to know.”

In a smaller closed-door meeting Thursday, Republican lawmakers asked Zelensky to address their concerns and provide his vision for a plan for victory. And Democrats asked him how they could convince their conservative colleagues that continuing to support the war was the right answer.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Zelensky had heard questions about “financial fatigue” and then talked about the “consequences of us cutting off the money.”

He said Zelensky had emphasized that Europe and other countries look to the United States for leadership, and that a decision by Washington to cut aid could undermine Europe’s commitment.

Zelensky later brought his wife, Olena, to the meeting at the White House.

The Zelenskys have attempted to build personal relationships with the president and Jill Biden, the first lady. Olena Zelenska has spent much of her time in hiding since the start of the war, but she wrote letters to Dr. Biden, and the two met last year in Ukraine when the first lady made a secret trip to the country.

“It’s good that our countries are really allies,” Zelensky said, reading from a game of cards as he sat next to the president. “I am in Washington to strengthen Ukraine’s position to defend our children, our families, our homes, freedom and democracy in the world.”

Zelensky also recounted his “frank and constructive dialogue” today with members of Congress from both parties. He posted a photo of himself. with House leadersand emphasized that Ukraine is “sincerely grateful to the House, both parties and all the American people for all the support.”

Karoun Demirjian, James C. McKinley Jr. and Juan Ismay contributed with reports.

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