By Dan De Luce - NBC News
If the United States postpones military aid to Ukraine, there is a "great risk" that the country will lose its war with Russia, Andriy Yermak, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's chief of staff, said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the U.S. Institute of Peace during a visit to Washington, Yermak said that if Congress did not approve more aid to Ukraine it could make it "impossible" to release more territory captured by Russia and "present the great risk of losing this war."
"If the aid now being debated in Congress is simply postponed. ... There's a big risk that we could be in the same position (where) we're located now," Yermak said, speaking in English.
"That's why it's extremely important that this support gets voted on and voted on as soon as possible," he said.
A Ukrainian soldier trains at military facilities, on December 5, 2023.Roman Pilipey/AFP via Getty Images
Yermak's comments came as Zelenskyy was due to speak to lawmakers on a confidential video call, in an attempt to appeal to Congress to back a proposed relief package requested by the Biden administration.
"Ukraine very much appreciated the U.S. and European support provided since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022," Yermak said. "But Kyiv still needs more weapons to defend itself and protect civilians who have returned to areas once occupied by Russian troops, including long-range missiles and air defense systems."
Ukraine has shown that it is capable of making good use of the weapons and ammunition delivered so far, he added.
Ukrainians still had a strong incentive to continue the war to secure their "freedom," he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks with military commanders during a visit to the front-line city of Kupiansk in Ukraine's Kharkiv region on Nov. 30, 2023. Efrem Lukatsky/AP
On Monday, the administration warned lawmakers that by the end of the year Washington would run out of money to deliver more weapons to Ukraine.
The Biden administration has asked Congress for more than $105 billion to fund assistance to Ukraine, Israel and U.S. border security measures. But House Republicans rejected the request.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday that democracy around the world would be at risk if Russian President Vladimir Putin were allowed to prevail against Ukraine.
"We will never be able to put a price on defending democracy in its hour of need, because if Ukraine falls, Putin will move on," Schumer said.
"Autocrats around the world will feel emboldened. Democracy, this great and noble experiment, will enter an era of decadence."