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Zelensky on a difficult mission in Washington

2023-09-21T17:09:14.881Z

Highlights: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked for new aid for his country. He met with senators and members of the U.S. Congress in Washington on Thursday. The mood in Congress has changed significantly since his last visit last year. Some Republicans reacted with resistance to the Ukrainian. He comes to Washington with concrete wishes for military equipment and a meeting with US President Joe Biden was also on the agenda. The US says it has provided more than $43 billion in military aid to Kyiv.



Status: 21/09/2023, 18:53 p.m.

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Volodymyr Zelenskyj (M) met in Washington with Mitch McConnell (l), minority leader in the Senate, and Chuck Schumer (r), majority leader in the Senate © Mark Schiefelbein/AP/dpa

The US is Ukraine's most important ally in the defensive fight against Russia. Above all, Zelensky can count on US President Biden at his side. But in the U.S. Congress, the situation is different.

Washington - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked for new aid for his country in the face of growing war fatigue and partly open rejection in Washington. The 45-year-old met with senators and members of the U.S. Congress on Thursday. He was grateful for the support for his country attacked by Russia, he said after the talks.

The mood in Congress has changed significantly since his last visit last year. Some Republicans reacted with resistance to the Ukrainian. He comes to Washington with concrete wishes for military equipment. A meeting with US President Joe Biden was also on the agenda.

Already more than 43 billion US dollars

Zelensky had warned senators of the dangers if no further funding was approved for Ukraine, said Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. "There was a single sentence that sums it all up, and I quote it verbatim: 'If we don't get the help, we will lose the war,'" Schumer told reporters about Zelensky, according to CNN. His party colleague from the House of Representatives, Hakeem Jeffries, agreed with him. "It is important that we stand behind Ukraine until victory is achieved," said the top Democrat in the House of Representatives.

At the end of December, the Ukrainian president had already been a guest in Washington. At that time, he was received like a hero, speaking to the cheers of deputies and senators before both chambers of Congress. The U.S. is Ukraine's main ally. Since the beginning of Russia's war of aggression, the US says it has provided more than $43 billion in military aid to Kyiv - far more than any other country. In addition, there is extensive economic aid.

Meetings behind closed doors

But since Zelensky's visit just before Christmas, the political situation in Washington has changed. The Republicans have been in charge of the U.S. House of Representatives since January, and there is considerable skepticism in their ranks as to whether the U.S. should continue to pump money on a large scale into a war whose end is not in sight. And so, this time, Zelensky met senators and deputies behind closed doors. A big speech fell into the water. The Republican leader of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, made it clear that he had rejected this request. "We don't have time for a joint meeting," US media quoted him as saying.

True, the majority of Republicans in Congress are behind support for Ukraine. Above all, however, right-wing hardliners oppose it. "The U.S. is squandering money that we don't have to pay for this war, while the EU and other leaders are absent from the world stage," said Republican Senator Roger Marshall. For this reason, he also stayed away from the meeting with the Ukrainian president.

Hardliners against further aid

All eyes are on the House of Representatives. Unlike in the Senate, the Republicans have a majority in this chamber of parliament - but only a narrow one. However, this gives the hardliners in the party, who oppose further aid to Ukraine, a particularly great power. They are putting pressure on their chairman McCarthy and pushing him forward. This is currently evident in the annual dispute over a new budget, which is also important for Ukraine.

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In this context, Democratic US President Biden had requested a new billion-dollar sum for Ukraine from Congress. It remains to be seen in what form his request will be granted. A new federal budget must be approved by the end of September, otherwise there is a risk of a "shutdown" - i.e. a standstill in government business. A bitter dispute is raging within the Republicans - it is about various differences, new Ukraine aid is one of them.

Meeting with President Biden

At a meeting with US President Biden planned for the US afternoon, Zelensky is likely to meet with less resistance. But the U.S. government has so far been rather defensive in its demand for ATACMS missiles. This is a cruise missile variant with a range of up to 300 kilometers. The missiles are fired from the ground against targets on the ground. His country does not plan to use it to attack Moscow or other targets on Russian soil, Zelensky recently assured.

The U.S. government considers a delivery of such cruise missiles possible, but has not yet made a decision, according to information from the White House. "The ATACMS are not off the table," National Security Council communications director John Kirby said Wednesday. Ukraine is requesting a similar weapon system from Germany, namely Taurus cruise missiles. They are suitable for the destruction of bunkers and protected command posts up to 500 kilometers away. However, because of the relatively long range of the weapon systems, there is concern that they could also be used to attack targets in Russia - and that the conflict could lead to a world war. Dpa

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2023-09-21

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