Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a risky trip to the United States to meet with American President Joe Biden as the war with Russia continues to rage. But for Zelensky, it was worth the risk to meet in person and discuss The United States’ continued role in the effort against Moscow’s invasion.
A majority of lawmakers seemed enthused about the Ukrainian leader’s visit, and several, along with Biden, affirmed their commitment to remaining steadfast as Ukraine’s partner. But with Republicans set to take over the House of Representatives next year, members of the chattering class wonder how much longer the US government will be willing to continue sending aid.
Zelensky Reiterates the Need for US Aid
Ahead of his trip, the White House announced another $1.8 billion for Ukraine’s war effort, along with a shiny new Patriot missile battery to help the country push back against Russian aggression. When the Ukrainian president appeared with Biden, the two seemed friendly. Zelensky presented Biden with a medal that had previously been given to a Ukrainian officer who manned a rocket battery given to the country by the US. In an earlier meeting with the Ukrainian president, the officer asked him to “give it to the very brave president.” In return, President Biden that the officer be given a US challenge coin, an honor typically reserved for American military service.
During a press conference after the meet and greet, the president thanked Biden for the Patriot battery, but indicated that his country would need more assistance to repel the Russian invasion. “What’s going to happen after Patriot [missile systems] are installed? After that, we will send another signal to President Biden that we would like to get more Patriots. We are in war. I’m sorry — I’m really sorry,” he said.
The Ukrainian president seemed irritated when asked about a “fair” way to end the war with Moscow. “A just peace? I don’t know what a just peace is,” he responded. “Just peace is no compromises to the sovereignty, freedom and territorial integrity of my country. “How many parents lost their sons and daughters on the front lines?” he continued. “What is a just peace for them?”
Speaking in front of US lawmakers, Zelensky noted that while Kyiv appreciates the assistance it has received thus far, it will need more to win a victory against Russia. He appeared to understand the growing fatigue among Americans for continuing to offer more funding and assistance to his war effort and tried to mollify those concerns, predicting that 2023 will be “a turning point” in the conflict.
“We have artillery, yes, thank you. Is it enough? Not really,” he said, also arguing that America’s “money is not charity” but “an investment.” He affirmed that his country uses the aid “in the most responsible way,” and warned that if his nation falls, Russian President Vladimir Putin would set his sights on other US allies in Europe.
Blank Check Support?
Zelensky’s speech was well-received, with both Republican and Democratic lawmakers offering a chorus of applause at various points. Nevertheless, continued aid to Ukraine might be on the chopping block next year. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) indicated earlier that the GOP could halt further funding to the country if oversight is not forthcoming.
During an interview with Punchbowl News earlier this year, McCarthy affirmed that “Ukraine is important,” but the American people “are not going to write a blank check to Ukraine.” Still, this visit to the US appears to have been a successful one. The Ukrainian leader seems to have won the hearts and minds of the federal government. The question is whether public support will continue as Americans suffer under the weight of inflation and a struggling economy.
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