Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy returned to Washington on Thursday and reassured lawmakers that his country was winning the 19-month war with Russia, but criticized congressional Republicans for continuing to support Kiev forces. It only faced declining support.
In an outward sign of a lukewarm reception, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) rejected President Zelenskiy’s request to address a joint session of Congress, the last time a Ukrainian leader did so in December. Ta.
“Mr. Zelensky asked for a joint session, but there was no time. He has already had a joint session” McCarthy told reporters After a morning meeting with the President of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian leader’s visit to Washington, D.C., comes after President Biden last month called on Congress to approve more than $20 billion in additional aid to the war-torn country, with dozens of Republican lawmakers It’s repulsive.
A group of six Republican senators and 23 Republican House members wrote in a letter to the White House on Thursday that “the majority of Congress still does not know how much the United States has spent on this conflict to date.” No,” he wrote.
“Yesterday’s classified briefing on Ukraine revealed that the United States is being asked to fund an indefinite conflict with unlimited resources. And I say no,” Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), who led the letter, posted on X (formerly Twitter).
President Zelenskiy, wearing his now familiar drab olive uniform, was joined by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), while Mr. McCarthy chose not to greet the Ukrainian president on camera. , was escorted around the Capitol by Senate Republican and Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer. (D-New York) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
“I’m glad that senators, members of Congress, the White House and really the United States are supporting us,” Zelenskiy told reporters after speaking with senators. “I think we have a very strong bond with the senators.”
Mr. McCarthy and other House Republican leaders have asked Mr. Zelensky about when and how Ukraine plans to make a major breakthrough in its months-long counterattack against Russian military lines, which are heavily mined in eastern Ukraine. He promised to ask tough questions.
Sen. Angus King of Maine said after the press conference that Zelenskyy “admitted that it would be very, very difficult to break through a solid defense.” “I believe they will make slow but steady progress, but it won’t be quick.”
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said President Zelenskyy told congressmen that his military was “victory,” but called for “air cover, or F-16s,” and long-range He said he said he needed ballistics. A missile called ATACMS.
“You need long-range artillery to hit Crimea, where Iranian drones are flying in. He doesn’t have that,” McCall said. “Right now, his troops are rushing in without air cover… We’re not going to send troops into that situation. So we need to give them everything they need. This administration If he’s not going to give it to them, then I’ve moved to put it in the appropriations bill. We’re going to put the weapons that he asked for, the weapons that this administration won’t give them, into the appropriations bill.”
McCaul dismissed Republican opposition to providing such aid, saying: “The majority supports this. I know there are differences of opinion on both sides, but I said, ‘You can’t win in a war of attrition.’that is [Vladimir] President Putin wants this because he wants to break the will of the American people and the European people. He cannot continue this war of attrition. We need a plan to win. ”
More aid to Ukraine is at stake as lawmakers try to avert a government shutdown that begins Sept. 30 at 11:59 p.m.
The main demand of the hardline House Republican opposition is to avoid any additional aid to Ukraine and avoid stopgap spending.
This complicates relations with the Senate, where both Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) support further aid. There is.
In a White House letter, 29 Republican dissidents asked for answers to several key questions.
“How is the fightback going? Are the Ukrainians closer to victory than they were six months ago? What is our strategy, and what is the president’s exit plan? What does the administration think of victory in Ukraine? Have you defined it? …Granting this request without knowing the answers to these questions is an absurd abdication of Congress’s responsibility.”
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Congress has appropriated more than $113 billion in both military and humanitarian aid to the war-torn country.
Of this amount, approximately $70 billion was approved for security assistance, of which approximately 90% was donated.
The White House’s $24 billion request includes $13 billion in security aid and about $7.3 billion in economic aid.
On the other hand, Russia added a barrage of fire They will play against Ukraine on Thursday to coincide with Zelenskiy’s visit to Washington, D.C.
Poland, Ukraine’s neighbor and ally, recently opted to halt arms supplies to the besieged country amid a dispute over grain prices.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced the policy changes on Wednesday while in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.
“Should we act to protect ourselves from harm caused by drowning people?” Polish President Andrzej Duda told reporters.
“Of course we must act to protect ourselves from harm to us, because if a drowning man harms us and drowns Because if you let him, he won’t get help.”