Zelenskyy and Biden to meet as Ukraine aid package stalls in Congress

WASHINGTON — Ukraine’s president will meet with President Joe Biden at the White House on Tuesday as an aid package with funds for the war-torn country stalls on Capitol Hill amid disagreements over immigration policies.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is also expected to speak with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, where there is growing GOP skepticism about providing more financial and military support for Ukraine in its war against Russia.

The White House meeting is “a chance for the president to get an update from President Zelenskyy about how things are going on the battlefront, but also to make it very clear to President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people that we’re going to continue to support them, particularly at this very difficult time,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said at a news briefing Monday.

Kirby added that Biden will also make the case “for why additional funding for Ukraine and Israel are vital to our own national security interests at this time.”

The two leaders will hold a joint news conference after their meeting, according to the White House.

Zelenskyy was also scheduled to meet with national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Monday night, a U.S. official said.

Zelenskyy is expected to speak with senators in a closed-door gathering Tuesday. He will also meet with House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., at the Capitol, a spokesperson for Johnson said.

Republicans have pushed back against Biden’s proposed aid package, which also includes funding for Israel and U.S. border operations, unless Democrats agree to pair the aid with tougher border policies.

Johnson reiterated that position in a letter to Shalanda Young, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, on Dec. 5, saying that “supplemental Ukraine funding is dependent upon enactment of transformative change to our nation’s border security laws.”

The White House has warned Congress that urgent U.S. support for Ukraine is needed.

“I want to be clear: without congressional action, by the end of the year we will run out of resources to procure more weapons and equipment for Ukraine and to provide equipment from U.S. military stocks,” Young wrote Dec. 4 in a letter to Hill leaders. “There is no magical pot of funding available to meet this moment. We are out of money—and nearly out of time.”

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., a lead negotiator for Republicans on the proposed aid package, said Monday that “there’s no way” to get the package done this week.

“Hearing their national security issues also reminds us of our national security issues, as well. This is a part of it,” Lankford said of Zelenskyy’s visit. “So when we’re dealing with Ukraine, we’re dealing with Israel, we’re dealing what’s happening in the Indo-Pacific, we’re also dealing with what’s happening on our own border. We’ve got to be able to resolve that.”

Zelenskyy has shot back at opposition to additional funding for his country’s fight against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“If there’s anyone inspired by unresolved issues on Capitol Hill, it’s just Putin and his slick clique,” Zelenskyy said Monday in remarks at the National Defense University in Washington. “They see their dreams come true when they see the delays or some scandals.”

Zelenskyy said in his remarks that he would talk with Biden about expanding Ukraine’s “capabilities in the sky, especially air defense on the front.”

“And it’s crucial that politics, politics don’t even try to betray the soldiers,” he said. “Because just like weapons are needed for their defense, freedom always requires unity.”

Zelenskyy also met with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Monday, the same day the IMF convened regarding the release of additional funds for Ukraine aid.

After the meeting, Zelenskyy wrote on X that he and Georgieva discussed the “long-term financing program for Ukraine.”

He also said he welcomed the IMF’s review that allowed authorities to draw about $900 million for budget support, the IMF said in a news release.

Zelenskyy has visited Washington several times, including since the war began. The Biden administration announced an approximately $325 million aid package for Ukraine after Zelenskyy’s visit in September.

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