Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in the US on Monday and pleaded for more military aid in a speech at the National Defense University in Washington, where he was introduced by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
“Ukrainians haven’t given up and won’t give up. We know what to do and you can count on Ukraine and we hope just as much to be able to count on you,” Zelensky said.
Zelensky’s visit comes as the White House is pressuring Congress to pass a $111 billion spending package that includes over $60 billion for Ukraine to fund the war for another year. The White House has said if Congress doesn’t authorize the funds, the US will run out of money for the war.
“Every one of you here understands for a soldier to wait for munitions, waiting for weeks, months, without knowing if support will come at all,” Zelensky said. “Every one of you with command experience knows what it means when instead of moving forward, you’re just watching, waiting for armor or equipment while your enemy is satisfied and preparing for assaults.”
Despite Ukraine’s failed counteroffensive, Zelensky is determined to continue the war even as Ukraine’s top general has said Ukrainian forces have little chance of breaking through Russian defenses and Ukraine is facing a manpower shortage. Sources close to Zelensky recently told Time Magazine that the Ukrainian leader is deluding himself into thinking Ukraine can win the war.
Zelensky will meet with President Biden at the White House on Tuesday and is set to hold talks with House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA). He was also invited to address a meeting of US senators to make his pitch for more spending on the war.
Republicans are looking for concessions from Democrats on border issues before they pass the $111 billion spending package, which also includes military aid for Israel and Ukraine. Reports have said the White House is willing to change asylum laws to make it more difficult for migrants to enter the country to get Congress to authorize the military aid.