Zelensky Leaves Washington with Little to Show

Written by Henrik Rothen

Dec.13 - 2023 2:45 PM CET

Foto: Shutterstock.com
Foto: Shutterstock.com
Zelensky Leaves Washington with Little to Show.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, hoping for a substantial financial package, left Washington with less than he had hoped for.

On Tuesday, according to 20 Minutes, he appealed to U.S. Congress members for an additional $61 billion in aid to support Ukraine's war effort, which was initiated nearly two years ago by Russia. Despite "positive signals" and threats from Joe Biden, Republicans turned a deaf ear, with some staunchly opposed to further funding and others demanding major concessions from the White House on the southern border migration crisis. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell warned that resolving this deadlock before the Christmas parliamentary holidays, starting Friday, would be "almost impossible."

Zelensky's visit "did not shift the lines," according to influential Republican Senator John Cornyn from Texas. Ohio Senator J.D. Vance, opposed to new aid, remained unchanged in his stance after the meeting. "The White House needs to weigh in on the negotiations," insisted McConnell.

In the House, new Republican Speaker Mike Johnson described his meeting with Zelensky as "good" but demanded "guarantees" from the White House. "What the Biden administration seems to want is billions more dollars without adequate oversight, without a real strategy for victory," he said.

Unless a Christmas miracle occurs, negotiations are unlikely to conclude by Friday. They are expected to continue in January but may collide with budget negotiations. The stopgap budget passed after Mike Johnson's election expires in two stages, on January 17 and February 2. Each side could then use the threat of a government shutdown, a politically costly but unpredictable move, to win the standoff.

Joe Biden, in the presence of Zelensky, issued a stark warning, stating that Russian President Vladimir Putin "is counting" on American aid to Ukraine coming to a halt. "We must, we must prove him wrong," Biden emphasized during a joint press conference in Washington with his Ukrainian counterpart.

Biden released $200 million on Tuesday, a drop in the ocean compared to the $111 billion already sent to Ukraine and the additional $60 billion requested. Zelensky specifically asked for weapons for better anti-air defense. His final plea: "It is very important to send a very strong signal of unity to the aggressor before the end of the year."

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