Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is slated to visit the White House on December 12, as reported by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. This visit comes at a time when Congress is in a deadlock over a fresh aid package for Ukraine, which is currently battling a harsh invasion from Russia.
President Joe Biden extended this invitation to underscore America’s unwavering commitment towards supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s aggressive advances. The leaders’ meeting will focus on discussing Ukraine’s immediate needs and the crucial role of continuous U.S. support during this critical period.
Zelenskyy’s trip to Washington will be his third since the start of the war in Ukraine, with his previous visit in September. His visit coincides with a crucial point in congressional negotiations over emergency aid for Ukraine, which has been stalled due to disagreements over immigration and border policy changes linked to the aid package.
Schumer and McConnell, the Majority and Minority Leaders respectively, have also invited Zelenskyy to address an all-senator meeting on the same day. Additionally, a meeting with the House Speaker, Mike Johnson, is also on the cards.
This announcement follows a hold-up last week when Senate Republicans blocked a package that was expected to provide aid to Ukraine and Israel, citing the absence of U.S. border provisions in the bill. Notably, Sen. Bernie Sanders voted with Republicans against the plan, while Schumer changed his vote to “no” to retain the option to reintroduce the bill later.
Earlier, on Dec. 5, Zelenskyy had unexpectedly cancelled a classified briefing with U.S. senators about Ukraine’s urgent need for additional funding and military assistance from the U.S. The Biden administration had previously requested nearly $106 billion in supplemental funding from Congress, of which around $60 billion was earmarked for supporting Ukraine’s defense against Russia.
In a letter to House Speaker Johnson, White House budget director Shalanda Young cautioned that the halt of U.S. aid would significantly weaken Ukraine on the battlefield. She stressed the urgent need for congressional action as resources to procure more weapons and equipment for Ukraine are running out.
Responding to this, Johnson outlined conditions for Republicans to support the Ukraine funding in a letter dated Dec. 5. He emphasized the need for transformative changes to U.S. border security laws and sought answers to questions about the administration’s strategy in Ukraine, accountability for U.S. taxpayer dollars invested there, and the specific resources required for victory and sustainable peace.
On Dec. 6, President Biden called on Congress to approve funding for Ukraine before the holiday recess, expressing surprise at the current impasse. He accused Republicans of potentially abandoning global leadership and gifting Putin with what he desires the most.
Meanwhile, Sen. J.D. Vance suggested that U.S. officials should consider the possibility of Ukraine ceding some territory in its fight against Russia. He argued that it is in America’s best interest to bring the war to a close, considering the high human cost of the conflict.