Biden tells Zelensky he’s ‘determined’ to get more military aid

Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine's president, is escorted by Representative Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York, left, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, 21 September 2023. (Photo: Kent Nishimura / Bloomberg)

President Joe Biden vowed continued support for Ukraine as he met with President Volodymyr Zelensky at the White House amid concern that the country’s slow counteroffensive and opposition among conservative Republicans could threaten additional military assistance.

“I’m counting on the good judgment of the United States Congress. There’s no alternative,” Biden said when asked if he was confident lawmakers would back more assistance for Kyiv.

The success of Zelensky’s trip hinges on whether a small-but-crucial bloc of the US House’s Republican majority approves more aid after existing appropriations run dry at the end of the month. A series of preliminary votes on funding packages failed this week, heightening fears of a broader government shutdown — and a pause in Ukraine assistance.

“The people of Ukraine have shown enormous bravery, enormous bravery, that has inspired the world,” Biden said Thursday at the White House. “Together with our partners and our allies, the American people are determined to see to it that we do all we can to ensure the world stands with you.”

Biden said he was authorising $325-million in additional security aid and that next week the first Abrams tanks would be delivered to Ukraine.

Zelensky thanked Biden for the assistance, calling it “a very powerful package”. “It has exactly what our soldiers need now,” he said.

Before the meeting, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said he remained confident that after settling “all the other elements going into these negotiations that have nothing to do with Ukraine, that there will be strong bipartisan support to continue funding Ukraine”.

The White House also announced a package of military assistance that includes air defence capabilities, ammunition for HIMARS systems and other weaponry.

“These capabilities will help Ukraine harden its defenses ahead of what is likely to be a tough winter, filled with renewed Russian attacks on Ukrainian critical infrastructure, to try to deprive innocent people of necessities like heat and electricity,” Sullivan said.

On Capitol Hill earlier Thursday, Zelensky asked for new weapons systems from the US, including F-16 fighter jets and longer-range ATACMS missiles, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul said after a meeting with the Ukrainian leader.

“A war of attrition is not going to win this,” said McCaul, who is among the Republicans who support ongoing aid. “We need a plan for victory, and we need to do it soon.”

Continued backing from the US and its allies is vital for Zelensky as his forces struggle to advance against Russian troops still occupying about 17% of his territory, fueling doubts about his ability to oust them completely.

Cracks have begun to emerge in the support for Kyiv, with Poland, a key ally, this week threatening to suspend arms deliveries in a dispute over grain shipments. At the same time, Zelensky’s efforts to win over major countries of the developing world at the United Nations General Assembly this week have yielded few visible results.

In Washington, the reception for Zelensky was cooler than during his last visit in December, when he spoke to a joint session of Congress. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who has clamoured for accountability of Ukraine aid that the US has already committed, told reporters that he rejected Zelensky’s request for a similar speech this time because lawmakers didn’t have time in a “busy week.”

After the meeting Thursday, McCarthy said Zelensky “answered a lot my questions”. Reiterating his support for Ukraine in the war, McCarthy said he’s “more than willing to look at” the requested aid package but he wants Biden to address the US border with Mexico before funding Ukraine.

Freezing new aid has become a ransom demand in the broader clash over government spending and a conservative Republicans’ efforts to challenge the embattled speaker.

Far-right representatives have said the funding antagonises Russian President Vladimir Putin, could be better spent domestically, or should instead be devoted to bolstering Taiwan’s defences.

The request also comes as Ukraine’s partners increasingly see a prolonged battle. A senior official from one European Group of Seven country said the war may last as long as six or seven more years — an assessment shared by other allies and largely based on Ukraine’s slow progress in its counteroffensive.

While most Republicans have supported Ukraine aid, a band of about 70 have opposed it, and McCarthy can lose no more than four Republicans to pass any bill without Democratic votes. Support among Republican senators is greater than in the House.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • David Anthony James Starley says:

    What an old dodderer he is, he can barely string two sentences together so it’s no wonder he’d rather spend billions upon billions to prop up his “son’s country of affluence” as opposed to some on his southern border.
    The millions of illegals entering the country from Mexico will be the ruination of the USA, just like those entering the UK.

    • Steve Davidson says:

      Oh my word, at least Biden does a lot of good things, unlike the aged heap of criminal doggy-do that is RasPutin’s lapdog. You really do need to stop watching Fux News!

      • Thys Buitendag says:

        Hi Steve, is it your money that is being thrown into this deep dark hole called the Ukraine war? I think not. Keeping the war going only benefits the arms industry.

        • Christian Pirk says:

          No, it helps to defend freedom and not to do the same mistake the world did in 1930s. It helps to keep proper relationships between sovereign countries and it indirectly is defending Taiwan.
          Because if Putin is successful it will encourage other countries to do the same. I am shocked by how many people seems do have no problem in supporting dictatorships.

    • Jennifer D says:

      He should prop up Mexico if he wants to stop people coming across the border. The question is who will do all the hard work when the Mexicans go home? The Mexicans are hard working, desperate and willing to work (as our Zimbabweans are). As in the UK after Brexit, the hard workers went home and left the British without labour.

      • Christian Pirk says:

        Thanks nicely stated, but I guess Thys and David just ignore the facts

        • David Anthony James Starley says:

          It appears as though the both of you only watch CNN whereas I tend to watch a whole swathe of different news outlets.
          Possibly you haven’t noticed, but:
          1. It is not the Mexicans in discussion here but the hordes from other countries around the world and South America itself.
          2. There have been way in excess of 2 MILLION illegals going across the USA southern border, thereby swelling, hugely, the numbers in those cess pools of liberal run states and sanctuary cities (New York cannot even cope now and it was one of the first cities to say “Come, we’re open”). The homelessness and violence being astronomical.
          3. The UK is being flooded by ‘economic’ migrants, flooding the cities (numerous barbers per street – you only need so many!), straining all the social services and with crime now unprecedented in vast areas.
          Final point – in sanctuary USA states and parts of the UK , the police do not even attend to store robberies any more – even though the losses run into millions.
          If you do not believe me then please do some research.

      • Craig King says:

        He has just given legal status to 472000 Venezuelans, work permits, social security numbers, right to get driving license and invitation to vote. Very few Mexicans are crossing but lots of others from 140 countries now. 10 000 crossed the southern border on Sunday alone. Under the Biden administration the border is essentially open as is the border with Canada now.

        Sanctuary cities are beginning to wail about the migrants coming there, 110 000 in NYC this year alone of which only 13000 were bused there by Abbott. Hochul, the New York governor has told the migrants to go elsewhere as her state is now full. Open borders are a nice idea until it starts impacting on you as it did in Martha’s Vineyard recently; also in NYC, Chicago, LA none of whom are happy to continue being sanctuary cities.

        As for Joe, he repeated his “Fine People Hoax” lie twice word for word yesterday. The same lie he used as the reason for him running for President originally. Whatever good you think he may have done he no longer seems competent now and his entanglement in his son’s business activities seems set to get worse. 20 pieces of evidence that indicate wrong doing on his part are about to be investigated in detail by Congress and some may become proof.

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