Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy indicated Thursday that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy supports additional aid to Ukraine, but said the California Republican must overcome fierce Republican criticism in the House.
In an interview with a small group of U.S. media reporters on Thursday night, President Zelenskiy described his meeting with the chairman earlier in the day as positive and good, and said they understood each other.
“He said they will be on our side. It won’t be easy, but they will support us.”
McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.
Ukraine’s president left Washington after a whirlwind day of talks with Congress, the Pentagon and President Biden, a day that Republican hardliners are using his visit as an opportunity to voice opposition to aid to Ukraine. Ta.
They included more than 20 members of Congress who wrote a letter demanding answers from the White House that they said were critical to the decision to agree to additional funding for Ukraine.
A group of House Republicans also said one of the opponents, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), voted against the bill because it included security aid to Ukraine. and undermined efforts to pass a defense spending bill.
President Biden also said the U.S. would provide long-range missile systems that President Zelenskyy had argued were essential for Ukraine’s military to put Russia at a disadvantage as a counterattack that began in late summer intensified into winter. He also refrained from making an announcement.
However, President Zelenskiy ultimately announced that the missile — the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) — has a range of about 190 miles and would attack Russian positions far beyond the line of contact, especially in occupied Crimea. seemed optimistic about receiving the key to threatening Russian positions. .
“We have to. I think yes. … Because we have no other way out,” he said of receiving the weapons.
President Zelenskiy had previously acknowledged that it was too late for Ukraine to launch a summer counteroffensive, but on Thursday night he said there was no option for Ukrainian forces to halt their advance with an eye toward winter. The lesson from the summer’s delays was that Russia was able to consolidate its position and frustrate the Ukrainian military.
“We will not stop during the winter. My answer is that we will make every effort not to stop during the difficult days of autumn when the weather is not favorable,” he said.
He also stressed that a pause in fighting would allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to replenish and resupply men and weapons and build up his military.
“I know what Putin wants. I know that… [as] One of the best people to understand him. one hundred percent. And he knows he needs a pause. Because he really lost people, he lost his professional army. they are dead. ”
Ukraine’s president said retaking Bakhmut was essential to push back against Russian propaganda that claimed the city had won a landslide victory in May, largely through the use of the private military group Wagner.
“We will lift the occupation of Bakhmut,” he said, adding that the Ukrainian military had a “comprehensive plan” to liberate more territory.
“I think we’ll lift the occupation of two more cities. Sorry, I won’t say which ones,” he said with a grin. “And we have a plan. A very comprehensive plan.”
The Ukrainian president was in good spirits during talks with journalists, starting out with a smile, but taking on a more serious tone as he discussed the stakes between Ukraine and the world.
“I don’t like this history. Because people are dying. And I know that we all couldn’t stop him. All of us. It’s true. We couldn’t stop him. “I didn’t stop him,” he said of the lessons he learned from not hitting back harder against Putin.
Still, the Ukrainian president said one of the most important aspects of Ukraine’s fight against Russia is maintaining global unity, saying that countries, especially the United States, are concerned about domestic concerns or caution that could overshadow support for Ukraine. He said the country is under increasing pressure in the face of a global crisis that is distracting from its efforts. resource.
Mr. Zelensky arrived in Washington after appealing to the 193 members of the United Nations at the United Nations General Assembly to stand up against Russian aggression, and said that President Putin’s war against Ukraine does not end at borders and threatens all countries. I warned you.
He highlighted certain bilateral meetings that he felt had yielded positive results, particularly his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but he also emphasized that Israel maintains close ties with Russia, including Kiev and Jerusalem. relationship is strained.
Zelenskiy believes that close ties between Ukraine and Israel will help push back Ukraine, which is battling Iran, which Netanyahu perceives to pose an existential threat to his country, and the drones and weapons it supplies to Russia. He said it was essential.
“I’m happy with the meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu. … It’s good for Ukraine. But I really think it’s even better for Israel. Because this is a dangerous moment and we are We have to deal with it very seriously.”
However, the President of Ukraine emphasized that the most important thing is the relationship with the United States.
Prior to his small meeting with journalists, President Zelenskiy presided over an event at the National Archives to recognize American volunteers who have donated time and resources to Ukraine, including medical and humanitarian aid.
“There is not a single Ukrainian who does not feel grateful to the United States,” Zelenskiy told the audience.
“America saved Ukrainian lives.”
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