Zelensky in U.S., meets with private and public defense leaders

December 12, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in the U.S. on Monday, where he undertook meetings with government and private-sector military leaders about continuing for his country in its war against Russia.

During a meeting Monday with business leaders representing U.S. defense companies, Zelensky asserted that continuing to support Ukraine militarily would contribute to creating more American jobs. 

“Held a meeting with the leaders of US defense companies and expressed his gratitude to every American worker who makes the weapons that help us protect our people and our land,” Zelensky wrote on social media, posting a photo of himself with the corporate leaders.

He added, “I also proposed to create a European defense hub in Ukraine. We are ready to make all the necessary decisions, reduce bureaucracy, and place orders.”

He went on to say that Ukraine is ready to produce more ammunition and military equipment but it needs support. “We can create more jobs, empower and benefit our people by working together,” said Zelensky.

Zelensky also met with Pentagon leadership on Monday, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown.

During a speech at the National Defense University in Washington, Zelensky received a standing ovation. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “weapon against you right now is propaganda and disinformation. But if he sees a chance, he’ll go further,” Zelensky cautioned U.S. military officers in the university’s audience. “Now he’s shifting Russia’s economy and society onto what he calls ‘war tracks.’”

“Putin must lose,” the Ukrainian President added. “You can count on Ukraine, and we hope just as much to be able to count on you.”

President Biden is set to host Zelensky at the White House on Tuesday. Along with continued funding for Ukraine’s war, the two leaders plan to discuss defensive cooperation efforts for the coming year, including joint projects to produce weapons and air defense systems. 

On Tuesday morning Zelensky was also meeting with U.S. Senators and House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) amid growing reluctance within the Republican ranks about continuing to support Ukraine. 

Johnson and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell  (R-KY) have insisted that GOP support for more funding to Ukraine be contingent on tightening U.S.-Mexico border security and immigration laws.

During a speech Wednesday urging Congress to pass his requested  $106 billion in new spending to send aid to Ukraine and Israel and to increase funding for border security, Biden said that he supports “real solutions at the border” and that he’s “willing to do significantly more.”

Last Tuesday, during a close-door meeting on Ukraine funding, arguments broke out among Senators after a group of Republicans walked out. Senate Republicans also blocked a procedural vote on Biden’s spending request.

Early last week, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young warned that previously-allocated U.S. funding for Ukraine is nearly dried up, and that not continuing to aid the U.S. ally would “kneecap” its military, and that “if Ukraine’s economy collapses, they will not be able to keep fighting, full stop.”

PHOTO: Zelensky speaking to military leaders at National Defense University in Washington

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