This time he will not be received with great fanfare. A little less than a year later his trip to Washingtonhis first since the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian president is expected again in the American capital this Thursday afternoon. During his visit on December 21, 2022, which had been prepared in great secrecy, Volodymyr Zelensky was acclaimed in Congress. This time, the atmosphere may be less warm.
Aware of the risk of weariness on the part of the great American ally, as the conflict continues and winter approaches, Zelensky will try to convince the United States to help him cross “the finish line” in the face of Russia, if possible with powerful new weapons. But the Republican opposition, which has taken control of one of the chambers of parliament since its last visit, is instead considering cutting off supplies to kyiv.
The Ukrainian president is scheduled to meet with leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties. The most anticipated interview, but which also promises to be the most difficult, will be with the Republican boss of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy. “I have some questions for him. Can he account for the money we have already spent? What is the strategy for victory? », Launched the conservative leader on Tuesday.
This financial aspect is further complicated by the very short-term risk of a budgetary paralysis in the United States, if parliamentarians cannot reach an agreement before October 1. on an at least provisional finance law. The discussions stumble, in part, on the budget devoted to military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
“We are with them as long as it takes”
It is “vital” that Congress releases the $24 billion requested by the executive to support the Ukrainians, John Kirby, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, said Wednesday. “Those who think the cost of supporting Ukraine today is high, just imagine how exorbitant it would become, in blood and money, if we give up, if we let (Russian President Vladimir Putin) take all Ukraine and finds himself in a much stronger position,” he said.
Volodymyr Zelensky must also p through the Pentagon on Thursday, before being received in the evening, accompanied by his wife, by Joe and Jill Biden. This will be followed by a meeting between the two presidents in the Oval Office and then a meeting extended to delegations from the two countries. “Russia believes that the world will tire and let it brutalize Ukraine without consequences,” warned Joe Biden, who must run for a second term next year, Tuesday at the United Nations.
The American president wants to “get an idea of what is happening on the battlefield”, but also “to tell President Zelensky very clearly that we are with them as long as it takes”, John Kirby said on Wednesday.
A new announcement of military aid?
During an exceptional session of the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Volodymyr Zelensky, for his part, denounced Moscow’s “criminal aggression” and “the blocking” of the UN body due to the Russian veto. “We are at the finish line,” stressed the Ukrainian president in an interview with CNNafter anonymous American officials expressed reservations in the press about Ukrainian military strategy.
The visit of the Ukrainian president is logically accompanied by speculation about a new announcement of American military aid. The main person concerned himself admitted to CNN that he would feel “a certain disappointment” if he did not leave Washington with the promise of receiving ATACMS long-range tactical missiles. The White House has so far responded cautiously to this request. The delivery of such missiles is “not excluded”, underlined John Kirby, ensuring however that “no decision (had) been taken”.