The White House this week said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s surprise visit to the US Capitol on Wednesday should be seen by Russia as a sign that America will continue to devote political and financial support to Ukraine for the long haul.
“This is about sending a message to Putin and sending a message to the world that America will be there for Ukraine for as long as it takes,” a senior administration official said late Tuesday.
“President Putin badly miscalculated the beginning of this conflict when he presumed that the Ukrainian people would yield and that NATO would be disunited,” the official said. “He was wrong on both those counts; he remains wrong about our staying power.”
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The official added that Zelenskyy’s visit might even inject “momentum” into US support.
“For President Zelenskyy to be able to come to the United States to thank the American people for the incredible support that they’ve received — and to thank both parties, to thank the bipartisan support that he’s received – would be an important injection of momentum and sustenance to American and Allied support for the months ahead and for as long as it takes,” the official said.
Zelenskyy arrives in Washington for a meeting with President Biden, a joint press conference at the White House and an address to a joint meeting of Congress 10 months after Russia’s invasion. He arrives just as lawyers are trying to pass a $1.7 trillion spending bill that includes another $45 billion in Ukraine military and humanitarian aid, which would bring total US spending on Ukraine to $110 billion if passed.
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Republicans, who are set to take control of the House next year, have indicated that they intend to support Ukraine but have also indicated the path to funding will not be as smooth as it has been so far. Some have supported an audit of US spending on Ukraine, and others are upset that so much funding is going out the door for Ukraine while other domestic priorities are ignored.
“I think the American people and the taxpayers of this country deserve to know why the Biden administration and this Congress is so interested in funding the protection of Ukraine’s border, and not the protection of our border,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, R -Ga., said last month.
The White House dismissed the idea this week that a GOP-led House would change the fundamentals of US support for Ukraine.
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“We have been confident all along that despite some rumors and suggestions to the contrary, support for Ukraine would remain broad, deep, and bipartisan,” the White House official said.
In addition to the prospect of a new round of financial support from Congress, the White House Wednesday is expected to formally announce a new security assistance package for Ukraine worth nearly $2 billion, which will include a Patriot missile battery.
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Biden and Zelenskyy will also review US sanctions against Russia and examine new ways to choke off Russian funding for its war effort. The US and members of the G7 have already agreed not to finance the transport of Russian oil unless that oil is priced at $60 a barrel, as a way to limit Russia’s ability to generate funding through energy exports.