Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is embarking on his second wartime visit to Washington, facing the daunting task of securing fresh aid to combat Russian invaders.
Despite war fatigue among US lawmakers, Zelensky remains undeterred in his quest for support.
During his visit, Zelensky will talk with President Joe Biden at the White House and visit the Pentagon to explore the possibility of obtaining additional weaponry, including longer-range missiles, to bolster Ukraine’s forces.
However, the most critical part of his visit will likely involve discussions with leaders from both the Republican and Democratic parties in Congress.
A new multibillion-dollar aid package for Kyiv is in jeopardy and faces the possibility of political opposition.
The White House has emphasized the timeliness of Zelensky’s visit, characterizing it as occurring at a “really critical time.”
Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russian forces continues slowly and is now progressing into the fall.
Fresh from addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Zelensky passionately urged the international community to stand alongside Ukraine in the face of what he termed Russia’s ‘genocide.’
He called upon Americans to maintain their unwavering support, highlighting the substantial $43 billion in military aid that Washington has provided to Ukraine since Russia’s February 2022 invasion, emphasizing, “We are on the finishing line.”
Zelensky’s Second Washington Visit: Challenges in U.S. Support for Ukraine
This visit to Washington differs significantly from Zelensky’s first wartime visit in December 2022, where he received a hero’s welcome at the White House and Capitol Hill.
This time, doubts loom over the future of US assistance, with hardline Republicans signaling their unwillingness to approve funding if it includes aid for Ukraine.
President Biden has pledged his commitment to Kyiv, framing his support as a demonstration of global leadership, a pivotal aspect of his 2024 reelection campaign.
Upon Zelensky’s arrival, President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will extend their greetings at the White House, followed by substantive discussions in the Oval Office, where Biden seeks to gain a “battlefield perspective” directly from Ukraine’s commander-in-chief.
Zelensky’s request for longer-range ATACMS missiles, capable of striking up to 300 kilometers away, is under consideration. While National Security Council spokesman John Kirby indicated that the request is “not off the table,” no final decision has been made.
Kirby stated that President Biden will discuss Zelensky’s needs and how the United States can continue to meet those needs.
President Biden, addressing the UN, cautioned against abandoning Ukraine, warning that “Russia believes that the world will grow weary and allow it to brutalize Ukraine without consequence.”
This warning coincided with Poland’s decision to cease arming Ukraine due to a dispute over grain exports.
Zelensky’s challenge lies in wooing Congress, where Ukraine’s prospects depend on the ongoing drama surrounding a looming government shutdown.
Hard-right Republican lawmakers are obstructing the White House’s demand for a budget bill passed by Congress to include an additional $24 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Kyiv.
Even moderate Republicans harbor doubts, questioning the plan for victory and suggesting alternative uses for the funds, such as enhancing US border security.
In this complex political landscape, Zelensky’s visit is a pivotal moment in determining the trajectory of US support for Ukraine and its implications on the global stage.