Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Washington this Thursday to try to convince the United States to continue helping him in the war against Russia, if possible with ultra-powerful weapons.
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Dressed in his usual khaki uniform, Zelensky arrived at Congress in the morning, where new military and humanitarian aid for his country is being debated..
(Keep reading: Zelensky asks the UN Security Council for Russia to lose its right to veto)
“Air defense will be one of the main priorities” during the meetings planned in Washington, Zelensky announced on X (formerly Twitter).
The atmosphere has changed since the president visited the capital on December 21, 2022 for the first time since Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February of the same year. So it was a secretly prepared visit.
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Now the sense of urgency has faded and the republican opposition has taken control of the Lower House.
I have questions for him. Can he account for the money we have already spent? What is the strategy for victory?
The Ukrainian president will meet with Democratic and Republican leaders, but the most anticipated and most difficult meeting will be with the Republican head of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy.
“I have questions for him. Can he account for the money we have already spent? What is the strategy for victory?” the conservative leader launched on Tuesday, under pressure from the right wing of his party to cut off supplies to Kiev.
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Everything is further complicated by the very short-term risk of a budget paralysis in the United States, if congressmen do not reach an agreement before the 1st. October on at least a provisional finance law.
The negotiations come up against, in part, the budget dedicated to military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
It is “vital” that Congress disburse the $24 billion requested by the executive to support the Ukrainians, John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said Wednesday.
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Zelensky will also go to the Pentagon, before being received, accompanied by his wife, by Joe and Jill Biden, at 2 pm (Colombia time).
This will be followed by a meeting between the two presidents in the Oval Office, followed by a meeting with the delegations of both countries.
The American president is aware of the danger of losing momentum as the war drags on and winter approaches.
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“Russia believes that the world will get tired and they will let them destroy Ukraine without consequences,” Joe Biden, candidate for a second term in 2024, warned at the UN on Tuesday.
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During an exceptional session of the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Zelensky denounced Moscow’s “criminal aggression” and the “blockade” of the UN body due to Russia’s right of veto.
“We are at the finish line,” the Ukrainian president stressed in an interview with CNN, after anonymous US officials expressed reservations in the press about the Ukrainian military strategy.
Biden wants to “get a sense of what’s happening on the battlefield,” but also “to tell President Zelensky very clearly that we will stand with them for as long as it takes,” Kirby said Wednesday.
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The Ukrainian president’s visit has sparked speculation about a new US military aid announcement.
Zelensky acknowledged to CNN that he would feel “a certain disappointment” if he left Washington without the promise of receiving ATACMS long-range tactical missiles.
For now, the White House is cautious. The shipment of these missiles “is not excluded,” Kirby stressed, but “no decision has been made.”
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