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Zelensky returns to US Capitol to express gratitude and strengthen relations – World

Zelensky returns to US Capitol to express gratitude and strengthen relations – World




World


Zelensky returns to US Capitol to express gratitude and strengthen relations





WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelinsky returned to the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday to strengthen ties with lawmakers who will vote on future aid for his country that could be put in jeopardy if former U.S. President Donald Trump is re-elected.

Zelensky, who is in Washington this week for the NATO summit, was scheduled to meet with leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives and members of the committees on defense, spending, diplomacy and national security.

“This is an incredibly important mission and we need to support Ukraine,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner told Reuters.

The visit comes at a time of deep uncertainty over this year’s U.S. presidential election, which is between Democratic incumbent Joe Biden, a strong supporter of aid to Ukraine, and Republican Trump, who has expressed skepticism about the amount of aid provided.

Zelenskiy presented the medal to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell before a lunch with a group of Democratic and Republican senators. He was scheduled to meet later with Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson.

Biden’s uneven performance against Trump in the June 27 debate and his low public support have raised new doubts about his mental fitness, with a handful of congressional Democrats calling on Biden to resign.

Reuters reported last month that two Trump advisers presented the GOP candidate with a plan to end Russia’s war in Ukraine – if he wins the November 5 election – that would see Kiev receive more American weapons only if it joined peace talks.

In a speech Tuesday, Zelensky urged American political leaders not to wait for the U.S. election results before taking decisive action to help Ukraine, and called for easing restrictions on the use of American weapons.

JOHNSON CHANGED COURSE

In Congress, dozens of Trump’s closest allies have repeatedly voted against supporting Zelensky’s government, though Democrats and more cooperative Republicans worked together to approve $175 billion in aid for Ukraine, which Washington approved after Russia invaded in February 2022.

More recently, Johnson, a close Trump ally, reversed course in April — months after Biden asked for the money — and allowed the House of Representatives to vote on and pass $61 billion in aid for Ukraine.

When Zelensky last visited Congress in December, Johnson said he would not support Biden’s request for additional funding.
The House passed the supplemental spending package by a vote of 311 to 112, with the “no” votes coming from conservative Republicans who are closely aligned with Trump. The vote stoked fears that Trump’s party would never approve more money for Ukraine if it takes control of the House, Senate and White House in November.

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