Ukrainian leader appeals for continued help for the fight to expel Russian forces as he visits Washington, DC.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that failing to maintain support for Ukraine would play into the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin as questions loom over the future of assistance from the United States.
Speaking on Monday to soldiers at the National Defense University during a trip to Washington, DC, Zelenskyy said Ukraine would continue its fight to expel Russian forces from the country.
“We won’t give up. We know what to do, and you can count on Ukraine. And we hope just as much to be able to count on you,” Zelenskyy said.
“Let me be frank with you, friends. If there’s anyone inspired by unresolved issues on Capitol Hill, it’s just Putin and his sick clique,” he added.
I began my visit to the USA by meeting with @SecDef Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Charles Brown at the US National Defense University.
We discussed global security challenges, frontline developments, and further US-Ukraine defense cooperation.… pic.twitter.com/Y3j7jO48Lo
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) December 11, 2023
Zelenskyy and US President Joe Biden have argued that helping Ukraine resist Russia’s invasion, launched in February 2022, is in the mutual interests of both countries as support for Ukrainian aid hits political snags in the US.
The Ukrainian president’s trip comes just before a crucial vote in the US Congress on further security assistance.
While the US initially helped rally Western countries in support of Ukraine, political schisms have started to emerge as the war drags on with few signs of a breakthrough for either side.
Support remains substantial, but in both Europe and the US, some right-wing lawmakers have sought to restrict or cut off continued assistance.
Ukraine’s supporters have alleged that such hesitancy only serves to strengthen Putin’s hand.
“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,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in remarks on Monday.
“America’s commitments must be honoured,” he added.
The US Congress has approved more than $110bn in security assistance for Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion but has not approved new funds since the Republican Party gained a majority in the House of Representatives in January.
Biden has asked Congress to approve an additional $61.4bn in support for Ukraine as part of a larger $110bn package that includes more funds for Israel and other issues.
Republicans have used their leverage to push for greater restrictions on immigration on the US border with Mexico, including reforms that would roll back access to asylum, in return for their votes.