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US President Joe Biden informed Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Thursday that the US will continue to help his battle to combat Russian invaders, despite Republican legislators’ challenges to giving billions more in aid.
Biden and Zelenskiy met in the White House East Room for a war council, part of an upsurge of appearances by Ukraine’s leader meant to shore up US support for a conflict that began in February 2022 and has no end in sight.
Biden Reaffirms US Commitment to Aid Ukraine
“Mr. President, we’re with you, we’re staying with you,” Biden said after two hours of talks, leaning across the table and shaking Zelenskiy’s hand.
Zelenskiy praised Biden for a new $325 million military aid package that includes armaments and air defences, stating that “it has exactly what our soldiers need right now.”
He stated that he and Biden agreed on concrete strategies to increase grain exports from Ukraine in the face of a Russian ban and tensions with neighbouring Poland. He didn’t go into specifics.
Biden’s request for $24 million in additional Ukraine funds to help pay for Ukraine’s defence and humanitarian relief until the end of the year is stalled in a budget battle pushed by Republican hardliners in the House.
When asked how he would overcome the resistance, Biden stated that only permission from the United States Congress would suffice.
“I’m counting on the wisdom of the United States Congress.” “There is no other option,” he explained.
Republican Senator Rand Paul’s comments, a regular opponent of foreign aid, exemplified the resistance. He told Fox Business News that Ukraine is a “corrupt regime” with no end in sight to the conflict.
The first American Abrams tanks will be transported to Ukraine next week, according to Biden.
“Just as we’re committed to helping Ukraine defend itself now, we’re also committed to helping them recover and rebuild in the future, including by supporting reforms that will combat corruption,” Biden added.
Biden stated that the United States will also deliver Ukraine a second Raytheon-built Hawk air defence battery and supporting equipment. According to a US official, the equipment would be in Ukraine soon.
After seeking international support at the United Nations on Wednesday, Zelenskiy arrived in Washington on a whirlwind tour that included discussions with military commanders at the Pentagon, a visit to the U.S. Capitol, and an evening presentation at the National Archives museum.
When revealing a fresh $325 million military aid package for Ukraine, Biden praised the Ukrainian people’s fortitude, which he and Zelenskiy discussed earlier in the Oval Office.
“Together with our partners and allies, the American people are determined to see that (we do) everything we can to ensure that the world stands with you,” Biden said at the opening of their meeting.
Ukraine highly appreciates US help “to combat Russian terror,” Zelenskiy said, adding that he will address Ukraine’s defence requirements with Biden, with a specific emphasis on air defence.
“Today, I’m in Washington to strengthen our ability to defend Ukrainian children, families, and homes, as well as freedom and democracy throughout the world,” he continued.
While Biden and most congressional leaders continue to favour aid to Ukraine, and Biden’s Democrats control the Senate, Zelenskiy encountered a more hostile crowd than when he visited Washington nine months ago.
According to Senator Chris Murphy’s post on the platform X, Zelenskiy informed the whole U.S. Senate in the Capitol’s historic Old Senate Chamber, dressed in military green to signify his role as a wartime leader, and received many standing ovations.
After the briefing, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated in the Senate floor that Zelenskiy informed senators that military help was critical to Ukraine’s war effort.
“If we don’t get the aid, we will lose the war,” Zelenskiy said, according to Schumer.
Later, Zelenskiy described his conversations with MPs as honest and helpful.
Zelenskiy met with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and other top Pentagon officials. He went to the Pentagon’s 9/11 monument, where he and his wife individually deposited a bouquet of sunflowers, irises, and other flowers.
The White House stated in the fall that the US will hold a meeting for the US defence industry, Ukrainian business leaders, and officials from both countries to discuss joint ventures and co-production as Washington attempts to strengthen Ukraine’s long-term defence capabilities.
Ukraine’s President Zelenskiy’s Washington Visit
According to the White House, during their conversation, Zelenskiy shared with Biden his intentions to combat corruption, and Biden emphasised the significance of robust anti-corruption institutions in Ukraine.
In his statement at the National Archives, Zelenskiy expressed thanks to Americans for their assistance, adding, “There is not a soul in Ukraine that does not feel gratitude to you, America.”
Doctors who treated Ukrainian soldiers and civilians, as well as citizens who collected cash for medical equipment, ambulances, and other necessary supplies, received honours from Zelenskiy and his wife.
As Ukraine’s military onslaught continues and Congress debates spending ahead of a potential government shutdown, a growing chorus of Republicans has questioned the billions of dollars Washington has supplied Kyiv for military, economic, and humanitarian reasons.