Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to thank the U.S. Congress on Wednesday night for its $65 billion backing of Ukraine as it fends off a Russian invasion, even as he indicates that Ukraine will need billions more to defeat its foe.
In a video of his meeting with Ukrainian troops this week, Zelenskyy indicated that this would be the main purpose of his Wednesday visit to Washington – to ensure American funding doesn’t dry up.
“The enemy increases the number of his troops,” Zelenskyy said in the video. “We will pass on gratitude from our boys to the U.S. Congress and U.S. president for their support, but it is not enough. Our boys are braver, and we need more sophisticated weapons. There is a hint here: It is not enough.”
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And in a statement released before meeting with President Joe Biden, Zelenskyy made it clear again that Ukraine’s needs will continue well into 2023.
“I am in Washington today to thank the American people, the president and the Congress for their much-needed support,” Zelenskyy said Wednesday. “And also to continue cooperation to bring our victory closer.”
Since Russia’s attack in late February, Congress has passed several bills to provide military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and even this week it is expected to approve another $45 billion as part of a funding bill for the rest of fiscal year 2023.
Continued cooperation is what could be at risk when Republicans take control of the House next year. Republican lawmakers have said they will continue to support Ukraine as it defends itself from Russia but have also indicated the money won’t flow as quickly as it has so far.
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Some Republicans, for example, have supported an audit of U.S. spending on Ukraine.
“I have been pushing the Biden administration to send support and weapons to Ukraine since early 2021, but Americans deserve a full accounting of how their money is being spent,” Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas, told Fox News Digital. “We are simply asking the U.S. government to show us the receipts. I hope President Zelenskyy’s arrival in Washington will encourage the White House to deliver an audit and prove our taxpayer dollars are being well spent.”
Others are upset that so much funding is going out the door for Ukraine while other domestic priorities are ignored, a sign that it may not be so easy to find the billions needed each month to keep Ukraine in the fight.
“I think the American people and the taxpayers of this country deserve to know why the Biden administration and this Congress is so interested in funding the protection of Ukraine’s border and not the protection of our border,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., said in November.
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It’s the hope of the Biden administration that today’s visit helps smooth over those problems and introduce Congress to the leader who has captured the world’s attention as the David to Russia’s Goliath.
“For President Zelenskyy to be able to come to the United States to thank the American people for the incredible support that they’ve received — and to thank both parties, to thank the bipartisan support that he’s received — would be an important injection of momentum and sustenance to American and allied support for the months ahead and for as long as it takes,” a senior administration official said Tuesday.
At the same time, Zelenskyy’s remarks are also meant as a warning shot to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the U.S. will not abandon Ukraine.
“This is about sending a message to Putin and sending a message to the world that America will be there for Ukraine for as long as it takes,” a senior administration official said late Tuesday.
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“President Putin badly miscalculated the beginning of this conflict when he presumed that the Ukrainian people would yield and that NATO would be disunited,” the official said. “He was wrong on both those counts; he remains wrong about our staying power.”