UNITED STATES

Zelenskyy pleads for Ukraine aid at Capitol and White House, says to US: Our fight is yours

Dec 12, 2023, 7:30 PM | Updated: May 30, 2024, 2:34 pm

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) and U.S. President Joe Biden shake hands while meeting i...

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) and U.S. President Joe Biden shake hands while meeting in the Oval Office at the White House on December 12, 2023 in Washington, DC. Zelensky is in Washington meeting with Biden and Congressional leaders to make an in-person case for continued military aid as Ukraine runs out of money for their war against Russia. The meetings come days after the U.S. Senate failed to advance Biden's proposed national security package that included emergency aid to Ukraine and Israel. (Chip Somodevilla /Getty Images)

(Chip Somodevilla /Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told America his country was fighting for “our freedom and yours” as he made an impassioned plea Tuesday for Congress to approve more assistance to fight Russia’s invasion.

But prospects for additional U.S. aid to Ukraine appeared seriously delayed, if not in grave doubt, despite his whirlwind diplomacy in Washington.

After hours of talks on Capitol Hill, Zelenskyy spent more hours at the White House meeting with President Joe Biden and his aides about a way forward. The U.S. has already provided Ukraine $111 billion since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his grinding invasion more than 21 months ago, but Republicans are insisting on linking any more money to strict U.S.-Mexico border security changes that Democrats decry.

The White House is warning that if new money isn’t provided by year’s end it will have swift consequences for Ukraine’s capacity to hold its territory, let alone take back land captured by Russia.

As Zelenskyy wrapped up his two-day visit to Washington, it was unclear if he had been able to shake up the political stalemate over aid –- though negotiations swiftly resumed at the Capitol and key Senate negotiators emerged saying they had made progress. He sought to make the case that supporting his country’s fight for its territorial integrity is about far more than Ukraine.

“For nearly two years we’ve been in a full scale war — the biggest since World War II, fighting for freedom,” Zelenskyy said. “No matter what Putin tries he hasn’t won any victories. Thanks to Ukraine’s success — success in defense — other European nations are safe from the Russian aggression.”

Biden similarly warned that failure by the United States to provide Ukraine further aid would embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin and others on the world stage.

“Putin is banking on the United States failing to deliver on Ukraine,” Biden said. “We must, we must, we must prove him wrong.”

Earlier, meeting with Zelenskyy in the Oval Office, Biden called on Congress “to do the right thing, to stand with Ukraine, and to stand up for freedom.” He added, “Congress needs to pass the supplemental funding for Ukraine before they break for the holiday recess, before they give Putin the greatest Christmas gift they could possibly give him.”

Zelenskyy made his own case in his private meetings with congressional leaders — that Ukrainian forces have fought fiercely to push back the Russian invasion with the help of American and other Western allies and it’s no time for Ukraine’s friends to step back.

“The fight we’re in is a fight for freedom,” Zelenskyy repeatedly said in the meetings on Capitol Hill, according to lawmakers.

Elsewhere, meanwhile, more than 130 senior lawmakers from across Europe signed a letter urging U.S. lawmakers to continue their support for Ukraine.

At the Capitol, flanked by Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Zelenskyy entered a private meeting with senators with a public bipartisan show of support and to some applause. But more than an hour later few senators’ minds appeared changed.

Zelenskyy also visited House leaders, including a private meeting with new Speaker Mike Johnson, whose hard-right Republicans have been the most resistant to any deal. Johnson insisted afterward, “We do want to do the right thing here.”

Zelenskyy sought to impress on the senators that Ukraine could win the war against Russia, telling them he was drafting men in their 30s and 40s in a show of strength for the battle. In his trademark olive drab, he stood before a portrait of George Washington, history hanging behind him.

To the House Democrats, he showcased his country’s embrace of the West by pointing to the Christmas season, telling them it was the first year Ukraine would celebrate on Dec. 25 rather than the day Russians mark the holiday.

McConnell said Zelenskyy was “inspirational and determined” in the Senate meeting.

But Republican senators seemed unmoved from their position. Sen. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma said the emergency funding wouldn’t gain GOP support unless it includes “real, meaningful border reform.”

Biden pushed back that “history will judge harshly those who turned their backs on freedom’s cause.” The president quoted a Kremlin-aligned television host celebrating Republicans’ recent blocking of aid as a job “well done.”

“If you’re being celebrated by Russian propagandists, it might be time to rethink what you’re doing,” he said.

Biden has been calling for a $110 billion U.S. aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other national security needs.

He has expressed a willingness to engage with the Republicans as migrant crossings have hit record highs along the U.S.-Mexico border, but Democrats in his own party oppose proposals for expedited deportations and strict asylum standards as a return to Trump-era hostility toward migrants.

Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas met for nearly two hours at the Capitol to help with talks. Key Senate negotiators Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma and Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona both left saying they made progress.

Ahead of Zelenskyy’s high-stakes meetings, the White House pointed to newly declassified intelligence that shows Ukraine has inflicted heavy losses on Russia in recent fighting along the Avdiivka-Novopavlivka axis — including 13,000 casualties and over 220 combat vehicle losses. The Ukrainian holdout in the country’s partly-occupied east has been the center of some of the fiercest fighting in recent weeks.

U.S. intelligence officials have determined that the Russians think if they can achieve a military deadlock through the winter it will drain Western support for Ukraine and ultimately give Russia the advantage, despite the fact that Russians have sustained heavy losses and have been slowed by persistent shortages of trained personnel, munitions and equipment.

It’s Zelenskyy’s third visit to Washington since the war broke out in February 2022, including a quick trip just a few months ago as aid was being considered. His surprise arrival days before Christmas last December, his daring first wartime trip out of Ukraine, drew thunderous applause in Congress.

At the time, lawmakers sported the blue-and-yellow colors of Ukraine, and Zelenskyy delivered a speech that drew on the parallels to World War II as he thanked Americans for their support.

But 2023 brought a new power center of hard-right Republicans, many aligned with Donald Trump, the former president who is now the GOP front-runner in the 2024 race for the White House.

Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Zelenskyy might be able to take on the stalemate by showing the stakes of potential Russian expansion toward NATO, and making his case on “moral clarity and why is Ukraine important.”

Zelenskyy kicked off the quick visit to Washington on Monday, warning in a speech at a defense university that Russia may be fighting in Ukraine but its “real target is freedom” in America and around the world. During his meeting with Biden, he also sought to assure Congress — and the American public — that Ukraine was worth the substantial cost to the United States.

“Ukraine can win,” said Zelenskyy. “People need to be confident that freedom is secure.”

Of the new $110 billion national security package, $61.4 billion would go toward Ukraine — with about half to the U.S. Defense Department to replenish weaponry it is supplying, and the other half for other military intelligence and defense support, humanitarian assistance and to help the Ukrainian government function with emergency responders, public works and other operations.

The package includes another nearly $14 billion for Israel as it fights Hamas and $14 billion for U.S. border security. Additional funds would go for national security needs in the Asia-Pacific region.

Biden also announced Tuesday that he had approved an additional $200 million military aid package for Ukraine. Including that latest package, the U.S. now has about $4.4 billion remaining in weapons it can provide from department stockpiles.

___

Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor, Tara Copp, Seung Min Kim, Will Weissert, Farnoush Amiri and Zeke Miller contributed to this report.

 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

United States

Grocery store shooting...

Amie Schaeffer

3 dead, 10 wounded in Arkansas grocery store shooting

Two people are dead and several were wounded in a Arkansas grocery store shooting Friday afternoon. The shooter was also badly wounded.

20 hours ago

An official ballot drop box is pictured outside of the Salt Lake County Government Center on March ...

Becky Bruce

Research: Threats, harassment of local officials up 55% since 2022

Princeton University's Bridging Divides Initiative performed the research with Civic Pulse, surveying local elected officials nationwide about their experiences with threats. 

2 days ago

View of Salt Lake City pictured, governor is cracking down on denver sending immigrants to utah...

Aimee Cobabe

Utah governor’s office pushing back against Denver for bussing immigrants to Utah

Gov. Spencer Cox's office says that the City of Denver did not consult with them about sending immigrants to Utah.

8 days ago

SCOTUS ruling on mifepristone...

Kira Hoffelmeyer, Jessica Lowell

Utah reactions to SCOTUS ruling on mifepristone access

The SCOTUS ruling on mifepristone means the abortion pill will remain accessible to women.

9 days ago

FILE - Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, speaks during a news conference outside the Capito...

Mariah Maynes

Jury deliberations begin in Hunter Biden trial

The jury has begun deliberating upon whether Hunter Biden is guilty of three federal firearms charges.

12 days ago

A child and two adults load things into a white truck....

Mariah Maynes

Today is Secure Your Load Day. So, what does that mean?

Secure Your Load Day is June 6. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, it aims to raise awareness of the dangers unsecured loads.

16 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...

Comcast

Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Zelenskyy pleads for Ukraine aid at Capitol and White House, says to US: Our fight is yours