But Zelensky, who has found his closest ally in Biden, faced a far greater challenge on Capitol Hill, where a growing number of House Republicans — who are poised to take control of the chamber in January — have expressed skepticism or outright opposition to continuing to send more aid to Ukraine. Zelensky’s visit also came as U.S. public support for sending expansive amounts of aid to Ukraine has softened significantly over the past several months amid rising economic anxieties….
After the speech, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said: “My position has never changed. I support Ukraine but I never supported a blank check. We want to make sure there’s accountability for everybody, the money that is spent.” His comments reflected a growing consensus among House Republicans who have demanded more oversight of how allotted funds are used.
On the whole, lawmakers in attendance were spirited by Zelensky’s appearance, giving him 18 standing ovations throughout his speech. Republicans and Democrats often cheered as they clapped, while Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) unfurled the Ukrainian flag and held it up with the help of her Democratic colleagues to visibly show Zelensky the support that exists for his country….
Earlier in the day, Zelenskyy held a joint press conference with U.S. President Joe Biden, who announced a new package of weapons and aid worth nearly $1.8 billion, including a Patriot air-defense battery, which the Ukainians had long sought.
But Biden faced pressure today from both sides. Some Republican lawmakers took aim at Washington’s aid for Ukraine, while a Ukrainian reporter asked why there was still reluctance to send the longer-range ATACMS missiles that Kyiv has been asking for since February. Since the U.S. was now sending Patriots, the reporter suggested, shouldn’t ATACMS follow?
Biden turned to Zelenskyy and dryly offered, “His answer is yes.”
To which Zelenskyy answered, “I agree.”
But Biden signaled that he was still reluctant to hand over ATACMS missiles, whose 185-mile range could allow Ukraine to strike targets deeper within Russia.
Administration officials, who are routinely asked about ATACMS, generally dodge the question and list other items that the United States has given.
Today Biden offered a bit more detail about why he has not budged: a fear of alienating Ukraine’s allies….
image..Haiyun Jang/The New York Times
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