The President of Ukraine first met with members of the Senate. As lawmakers emerged from private debate, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told reporters that Zelensky used the term “guerrilla warfare.” By insurgents against the occupation of US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I have no doubt that the Ukrainians will fight to the last man,” Graham said.
Cyberattack hits Kyiv, Zelensky strikes US as lifeline in war
Zelensky was scheduled to meet with House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) before heading to the White House for an afternoon strategy session with President Biden.
The mission, which comes a week before lawmakers are expected to leave town for the holidays, is particularly important, said one of Zelensky’s senior aides: Ukraine’s military needs help now. “It’s a matter of life and death for Ukraine,” the senior adviser said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss conversations with senior U.S. officials. “Timing is of the essence: that is the message.”
To date, Congress has appropriated more than $111 billion to support Ukraine, but lawmakers failed to heed Biden’s request earlier this fall for an additional $61 billion a year in security aid. to Israel, Taiwan and the US border.
Public support for Ukraine has steadily declined in recent months, as Republican lawmakers — particularly in the House of Representatives, where the right wing of the party has gained more influence — have expressed a rapidly diminishing appetite for funding Ukraine’s war effort.
A growing number of Republicans in both chambers have said in recent weeks they won’t approve aid to Ukraine unless the U.S. tightens immigration policy.
Zelensky was scheduled to address a House and Senate conference on Ukraine last week, but canceled that appearance just before the Ukrainian leader turned the conference into a shouting match on U.S. border policy. Several Republican lawmakers left the area.
“My advice to the White House is that the president made a commitment to Zelensky. To honor that commitment, they need to secure the border,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) told reporters Monday. , I would say, ‘Do the job’.”
Who will Republican lawmakers ask, Zelensky or Republican voters?
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), one of Ukraine’s staunchest Republican supporters, has joined his caucus in demanding immigration changes to support the supplemental funding package.
“Border security is not a side show when it comes to keeping America safe,” McConnell said Monday. “This is ground zero. Senate Republicans no longer have leisure to explain this basic reality.
Biden signaled last week that he would be willing to accept significant immigration restrictions to secure a deal, but talks between the two sides have so far failed to produce one, and lawmakers have days to do so before their recess. One of the deal’s top negotiators said they would not meet.
Meanwhile on Monday Zelensky warned an audience of US and international military personnel gathered at the National Defense University in Washington that his nation’s chances of victory hang in the balance.
“When the free world hesitates, when the dictators celebrate … if there’s someone on Capitol Hill who is inspired by the unresolved issues, that’s fair,” Zelensky said. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and his sick team.
“It is very important not to even try to betray a political soldier,” Zelensky later said in his speech. “Freedom always needs unity, as arms are needed for their defense.”
The U.S. intelligence community believes Russia has lost 87 percent of its troops and 63 percent of its tanks by the start of the invasion in February 2022, said a person familiar with the estimate, which was classified at the request of Congress. The Ukraine war has set back Moscow’s ability to modernize its ground forces by 15 years, the person said. The loss of about 2,200 tanks, according to the U.S. estimate — has forced the Russians to draw on older Soviet stock and increasingly use 1970s-era models, the person said.
National Security Council spokesman Adrian Watson said Tuesday that Russia’s military has lost 13,000 troops and more than 220 combat vehicles along its offensive lines in the past few months alone. The Kremlin “appears to believe that the military stalemate through the winter will drain Western support for Ukraine and ultimately benefit Russia, despite Russian losses and continued shortages of trained personnel, ammunition and equipment.”
The Biden administration last week announced $175 million in additional security aid to Ukraine, but warned that without congressional approval, it would be the last aid it could provide.
Both the administration and Zelensky’s government have warned that Kyiv could lose its ability to pay government workers, including first responders, without more help. A Ukrainian lawmaker said last week that US support for the war so far accounts for a third of the country’s budget.
Throughout his speech on Monday, Zelensky emphasized democratic ideals and the spread of prosperity, and sought to position his country as a bulwark against Putin’s expansionist ambitions in Europe.
“You can trust Ukraine. And we hope you can trust us,” he said.
Jacob Bogage, Alex Horton, John Hudson, Theodoric Meyer, Marianna Sotomayor and Tyler Pager contributed to this report.