Volodymyr Zelenskyy warns US halt in Ukraine aid would bolster dictatorships

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned the US that any wavering in its support for Kyiv would bolster dictatorships around the world, as American funding for Ukraine’s defence against Russia is set to lapse by the end of the month. 

“When the free world hesitates, that’s when dictatorships celebrate,” Zelenskyy told the National Defense University in Washington on Monday ahead of meetings planned for Tuesday with US President Joe Biden and congressional leaders.

Zelenskyy’s visit to the US comes at a pivotal moment in Ukraine’s fight against Russian forces, which launched a full-blown invasion of the country in February 2022. While Kyiv’s military performed better than expected early in the conflict, and proceeded to regain some lost territory with the help of western military aid, a counteroffensive to dislodge Moscow’s forces has stalled in recent months.

Although Biden has asked Congress to provide more than $60bn in additional funds to Ukraine to keep up the fight, Republicans have resisted the request and demanded strict new curbs on immigration at the US southern border in exchange for passage of the spending bill.

Last week a bill that included more funding for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan was defeated by Republican opposition in the Senate.

“If there’s anyone inspired by unresolved issues on Capitol Hill, it’s just [Vladimir] Putin and his sick clique,” Zelenskyy said on Monday of Russia’s leader. “They see their dreams come true when they see the delays.”

With no easy deal in sight, and no approval for additional funding, the Pentagon has started rationing its aid to Ukraine, and has warned it could be stopped altogether by the end of the year.

“Every one of you here understands what it means for a soldier to wait for munitions: waiting for weeks, months, without knowing if support will come,” Zelenskyy told the audience, which included military officers as well as Lloyd Austin, the US defence secretary.

“Everyone of you with command experience knows what it means, when instead of moving forward, you’re just watching, waiting for armour or equipment, while your enemy is satisfied and preparing for assaults,” he said.

But Zelenskyy’s pleas risk falling flat, with some Republicans who are allied with former president Donald Trump and oppose Ukraine aid digging in against it.

JD Vance, the Ohio Republican senator, said he was “offended” by Zelenskyy’s visit to Washington this week, and it was “not the role of the United States here to hand out money to every beggar who comes into our country”.

“He’s here to badger and browbeat Speaker [Mike] Johnson and Senate Republicans into forgoing our negotiations on border security in order to write him another blank cheque . . . this is not Churchill coming in the midst of World War Two,” Vance added.

Zelenskyy is due to meet with Johnson, the Republican House Speaker, on Tuesday morning, as well as Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate. “When it comes to keeping America safe, border security is not a side show. It’s ground zero,” McConnell said on Monday.

Zelenskyy will then head to the White House, where Biden has been making similar arguments as the Ukrainian president about the importance of not allowing a Russian victory.

“This is exactly the right time to be having President Zelenskyy in town to have these discussions because of what’s going on in Ukraine, the increased activity we’re seeing by the Russian armed forces as winter approaches, but also what’s going on Capitol Hill,” said John Kirby, National Security Council spokesperson.

On Monday afternoon, Zelenskyy received a boost from the IMF, which said it would disburse another $900mn under its Ukraine programme. The fund has granted $4.5bn under the $15.6bn programme so far this year. 

Gavin Gray, the fund’s mission chief, said Ukraine’s growth this year had been better than expected at 4.5 per cent, crediting Kyiv’s performance as “strong, despite the extremely challenging war context”. The IMF predicts the country’s growth will be 3-4 per cent for 2024.

He added that it was critical that the country’s donors continued to disburse funds “as promised, and in a timely and predictable manner”.

“Without these resources it will be hard to preserve the hard won gains of macroeconomic and financial stability.” 

But the discussions on military aid at the White House and Capitol Hill on Tuesday are expected to take centre stage.

Introducing the Ukrainian president, Austin said Washington remained determined to help Kyiv fight to “deter Russia from any further aggression — including against our Nato allies”, saying the US would “not flinch in our defence of freedom”.

“Despite his crimes and despite his isolation, Putin still believes that he can outlast Ukraine, and that he can outlast America. But he is wrong,” Austin said. “America’s commitments must be honoured, America’s security must be defended. And America’s word must be kept,” he added.


Denial of responsibility! Elite News is an automatic aggregator of Global media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, and all materials to their authors. For any complaint, please reach us at – [email protected]. We will take necessary action within 24 hours.
DMCA compliant image

Leave a comment