Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was headed to Washington DC on Thursday, where he’s set to meet with President Biden and a bipartisan group of Congressional leaders and military leaders.
Zelensky has said that during his meetings in Washington, “air defense will be among top priorities,” noting yet another “mass missile attack” on Ukraine Tuesday evening.
On Zelensky’s return to Washington he’s likely to face Republican lawmakers who are questioning the flow of U.S. funds into Ukraine amid its 19-month-long war against Russia.
In a letter sent Thursday to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shalanda Young, nearly 30 Republican Representatives and Senators say they’re rejecting President Biden’s latest request for an additional $24 billion in security, economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
Citing their concerns about more than $100 billion in funding already approved by Congress, the more-than two dozen Republicans say they’re against an “open-ended commitment” to Ukraine for what they perceive to be an unclear strategy.
Zelensky’s second visit to Washington in nine months comes as Congress has only until midnight September 30 to approve a federal budget and avoid a government shutdown. Party infighting among House Republicans this week led to the stalling of two crucial spending bills, one of which is the $886 billion defense appropriation bill for 2024.
Zelensky’s visit follows his address earlier this week before the United Nations General Assembly, where he made an impassioned plea for the member nations to continue supporting his nation in its war against Russian “aggressors” whom he accused of committing “genocide.”
He also blasted the U.N. Security Council, of which Russia is a permanent member nation with veto power on any of its decisions. He called for the General Assembly to overcome vetos of Security Council resolutions which, when passed, can impose real-world consequences like sanctions or authorizing the use of force, including peacekeeping missions.
While in New York, Zelensky met with Penny Pritzker, U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine’s Economic Recovery. The Ukrainian President said they focused on “immediate and long-term recovery projects,” with Zelensky stressing “the importance of American businesses taking part in rebuilding Ukrainian infrastructure destroyed by Russian aggression: schools, kindergartens, residential buildings, and energy facilities” especially as winter approaches.