Russia-Ukraine War: Zelensky thanks Americans in emotional speech to end visit to Washington | 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.

Zelensky said he also received assurances from Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, in a private meeting that the House would continue to support Ukraine’s war effort. “He said they will be on our side, it’s not simple, they will support us,” he said during a meeting with American editors Thursday night.

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, worth $325 million, building on existing funding, including 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. “We have to” have them, he stated in the meeting with the editors. “Because we have no other way out.”

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

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

Zelensky said Ukraine would not stop its counteroffensive this winter and hoped to take advantage of what he saw as Russian weaknesses. “I’m not the best military person in the world,” he said, but President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia needed to “take a break because he really lost people, professional army, he lost. They are dead”.

“We can’t stop during the winter,” he said. “It’s difficult. But we have experience from the previous year.”

He predicted that Ukrainian forces would retake – “occupy,” as he put it – Bakhmut and two more cities. “I won’t tell you which cities, sorry,” Zelensky told editors, saying the military had a “very comprehensive plan.”

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 threaten to relieve McCarthy of his hammer.

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.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine met with Sen. Mitch McConnell, left, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, right, on Capitol Hill on Thursday. Credit…Kenny Holston/The New York Times

McCarthy has been under pressure to take a hard line amid his group’s demands for spending cuts, and in a closed-door meeting Thursday, Republican lawmakers asked Zelensky to address their concerns and provide his vision for a plan. for the victory. 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.”

The report was contributed by Karoun Demirjian, James C. McKinley Jr., Juan Ismay and Elisabeth Bumiller.

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