Zelensky Faces GOP Doubts

Ukrainian president nevertheless leaves with more US aid
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2023 7:30 PM CDT
Zelensky Leaves With More Aid
President Biden meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Oval Office of the White House on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is not leaving Washington empty-handed, despite indications that congressional Republicans are becoming less enthusiastic about helping to fund his battle against the Russian invasion. President Biden welcomed Zelensky and his wife, Olena Zelenska, to the White House on Thursday, and later announced another $325 million in military aid for Ukraine, the Washington Post reports. Zelensky's one-day visit included:

  • A more low-key welcome: The US guest's request to address a joint session of Congress was turned down. "We just didn't have time," House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said, per Axios. So there was no two-minute standing ovation like the one Zelensky received from Congress in December, when he thanked "every American" for the support of Ukraine's fight.
  • GOP resistance: A faction of McCarthy's Republicans aren't allowing a vote on funding the Pentagon, much less Ukraine's military. "There's no money in the House right now for Ukraine," GOP Rep. Byron Donalds told reporters. "It's not a good time for [Zelensky] to be here, quite frankly."
  • Questioning: McCarthy did meet privately with Zelensky, per the Post, and pressed him about how open-ended the war in Ukraine could be. He also asked whether the weapons sent by the US are being used responsibly.
  • A visit with Biden: "The people of Ukraine are steeled for this struggle ahead," Biden said in remarks after their talk. "And the United States is going to continue to stand with you." Biden said the first US Abrams tanks will arrive in Ukraine next week, per ABC News. The latest shipment includes artillery, ammunition, and anti-tank weapons, Biden said. Zelensky expressed gratitude, saying the package "has exactly what our soldiers need now." Biden also is asking for another $24 billion in military and humanitarian aid.
  • Other meetings: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell escorted Zelensky in the Capitol, per the Wall Street Journal. "If we don't get the aid, we will lose a war," Schumer told reporters. Zelensky also met with Pentagon officials.
  • A joint address: Ukraine's president and first lady both spoke Thursday evening at the National Archives before leaving, per NBC News. "Never before has the Russian leadership met such strong resistance," Zelensky said, "and never again will Russia manage to destroy any other nation." Ukraine's struggle is a fight "against evil, against the worst that might be born within a human—a conscious effort to kill, destroy, grab, enslave," Zelensky told the audience. "Therefore, it is also a spiritual battle."
(Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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