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Our fight is yours: Zelenskyy seeks Ukraine aid at Capitol, White House

Our fight is yours: Zelenskyy seeks Ukraine aid at Capitol, White House

Washington: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told America his country was fighting for “our freedom and yours” as he made an impassioned plea on Tuesday for Congress to approve more assistance to fight Russia's invasion.

But prospects for additional US aid to Ukraine appeared seriously delayed, if not in grave doubt, despite his whirlwind diplomacy in Washington. After hours of talks on Capitol Hill, Zelenskyy spent more hours at the White House meeting with President Joe Biden and his aides about a way forward.

The US has already provided Ukraine with USD 111 billion since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his grinding invasion more than 21 months ago, but Republicans are insisting on linking any more money to strict US-Mexico border security changes that Democrats decry.

The White House is warning that if new money isn't provided by year's end it will have swift consequences for Ukraine's capacity to hold its territory, let alone take back land captured by Russia.

As Zelenskyy wrapped up his two-day visit to Washington, it was unclear if he had been able to shake up the political stalemate over aid though negotiations swiftly resumed at the Capitol and key Senate negotiators emerged saying they had made progress.

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He sought to make the case that supporting his country's fight for its territorial integrity is about far more than Ukraine.

“For nearly two years we've been in a full-scale war — the biggest since World War II, fighting for freedom,” Zelenskyy said. “No matter what Putin tries he hasn't won any victories. Thanks to Ukraine's success — success in defense — other European nations are safe from Russian aggression.”

Biden similarly warned that failure by the United States to provide Ukraine with further aid would embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin and others on the world stage. “Putin is banking on the United States failing to deliver on Ukraine," Biden said. “We must, we must, we must prove him wrong.”

Earlier, meeting with Zelenskyy in the Oval Office, Biden called on Congress "to do the right thing, to stand with Ukraine, and to stand up for freedom.”

He added, “Congress needs to pass the supplemental funding for Ukraine before they break for the holiday recess. before they give Putin the greatest Christmas gift they could possibly give him.”

Zelenskyy made his own case in his private meetings with congressional leaders that Ukrainian forces have fought fiercely to push back the Russian invasion with the help of American and other Western allies and it's no time for Ukraine's friends to step back.

“The fight we're in is a fight for freedom," Zelenskyy repeatedly said in the meetings on Capitol Hill, according to lawmakers.

Elsewhere meanwhile, more than 130 senior lawmakers from across Europe signed a letter urging US lawmakers to continue their support for Ukraine.

Biden has been calling for a USD 110 billion US aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other national security needs. He has expressed a willingness to engage with the Republicans as migrant crossings have hit record highs along the US-Mexico border.

However, Democrats in his own party oppose proposals for expedited deportations and strict asylum standards as a return to Trump-era hostility toward migrants.

With PTI inputs

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TAGS:White HouseJoe BidenUkraine-Russia warWorld NewsVolodymyr Zelenskyy
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