Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday met behind closed doors with U.S. Senators and House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), to make a late-hour effort to salvage aid negotiations for his country’s war against Russia.
Zelensky arrived on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning flanked by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Afterward, as Zelensky walked out alongside the two Senate leaders, Schumer called it a “very good and productive meeting,” adding, “President Zelensky has made it so clear that he needs help, but if he gets it, he can win this war.”
Zelensky did not talk to reporters, himself, following the meeting.
The Ukrainian leader’s third visit to Washington since Russia invaded his country in February 2022 comes amid growing reluctance within the Republican ranks about continuing to support Ukraine.
McConnell and Johnson have insisted that GOP support for more funding to Ukraine be contingent on tightening U.S.-Mexico border security and immigration laws.
Zelensky is also set to meet with President Biden on Tuesday, who said last week during a speech urging Congress to pass his requested $106 billion in supplemental defense spending that he supports “real solutions at the border” and that he’s “willing to do significantly more.”
Though Biden’s supplemental would not only send aid to Ukraine but also to Israel as well as increase funding for border security, Senate Republicans last Tuesday blocked a procedural vote on the President’s request.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) this week said new funding for Ukraine is likely to be delayed until 2024.
Zelensky arrived in the U.S. on Monday and spent that day talking with Pentagon and private-sector military leaders.
He asserted in a meeting with the heads of defense companies that continuing to support Ukraine militarily would contribute to creating more American jobs, proposing to create a European defense hub in Ukraine.
“We are ready to make all the necessary decisions, reduce bureaucracy, and place orders,” Zelensky wrote on social media.