Volodymyr Zelensky takes a beating in Washington where, despite the unconditional support of Joe Biden and the announcement of a new arms package in Kiev, the Republicans of the House are walling against the open-ended support to Ukraine by freezing the expectations of the Ukrainian leader and the demands of the commander-in-chief.
"If we don't get the aid, we'll lose the war," was Zelensky's heartfelt appeal to the 70 senators he met with Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Ukrainian president, in military gear but wearing a shirt, thanked "senators and deputies for their support", but avoided answering journalists' questions. "We keep the details of our conversations to ourselves," he said dryly, not hiding a certain disappointment. The balance in the US Congress has changed compared to nine months ago and, especially in the House, the front of aid skeptics is increasingly wide. To freeze Zelensky's expectations and Biden's requests, Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy has thought about ruling out, or at least not formally committing to put on the agenda the approval of the $ 24 billion aid package by the end of the year, as requested by the president. "We have our own tax issues to deal with. There are 10,000 people who have just crossed the border and the president is only thinking" of Ukraine, McCarthy attacked. On funds in Kiev, the speaker is increasingly hostage to the handful of Trumpian deputies, and not only, and on the day of Zelensky's visit he suffered another defeat when a handful of Republicans sank for the second time this week a procedural vote to advance the defense spending bill. Another step towards the shutdown that Donald Trump has asked his men to implement to sink "the corrupt Biden" and take away his funds "for the trials against me".
McCarthy also avoided being photographed with the Kiev leader and denied him a joint session of Congress on the grounds that there was no time. In short, a completely different welcome than in December a year ago, when the Ukrainian leader was welcomed as a hero. As if that wasn't enough, 23 Republican congressmen and six senators wrote a letter to Biden criticizing the White House's strategy on the war as "unclear" and lamenting the open-ended commitment to Kiev. After Capitol Hill, Zelensky moved to the Pentagon where he had talks with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin with whom he laid a wreath at the September 11 memorial and made a point about the state of the counteroffensive. The intense day of the Ukrainian president in the American capital ended at the White House with the meeting with Biden, the sixth in person between the two. In the Oval Office, the commander in chief announced his intention to send the new package of weapons, of course subject to the green light of Congress, which today seemed very far away. While reiterating his support for Kiev "for as long as necessary", Biden gave Zelensky another disappointment by not including in the list of new weapons the coveted Atacms, those long-range missiles that would serve the Ukrainian army to defend itself against Russian attacks. In the announced package there are in fact "significant air defense systems" but, for the umpteenth time, not the Army Tactical Missile Systems. "
No decision has been made yet, but they are not out of the question," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said. Officially, the Pentagon says that the US does not have enough to share them with its allies and, moreover, that it would not make a difference to the Ukrainians right now in the war. In fact, Washington's real fear is that those missiles could be used to attack on Russian territory with unimaginable consequences for Ukraine and the world.
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