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US lawmakers demand answers on Ukraine

Questions to the Ukrainian president during his meeting with US legislators were “very scripted,” Senator Eric Schmitt laments

Ukraine’s President Vladimir Zelensky has failed to provide any new arguments in defense of his cause during his talks in Washington with American lawmakers, several senators and representatives, including House Speaker Mike Johnson, have told the media in the wake of the meeting on Tuesday.

Zelensky arrived in the capital to hold a series of meetings with top US officials to save a $61-billion aid package for Kiev that remains in limbo. Last week, GOP senators blocked the Biden administration’s major $111-billion supplemental funding request, which included aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, citing the Democrats’ reluctance to address the tense situation on the US-Mexico border.

Some Republicans have also repeatedly pointed to the lack of accountability in terms of the funds Washington had spent on helping Ukraine.

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According to senior GOP senator Lindsey Graham, Tuesday’s meeting has failed to bring about any changes in the lawmakers’ stance. “Nothing has changed,” he told journalists. The South Carolina senator, who emerged as a staunch supporter of Kiev amid its conflict with Moscow, explained that, although he would like to aid Ukraine, border security comes first.

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US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meets with Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov at the Pentagon in Washington, DC.
Ukraine asking US for military aid that doesn’t exist – NYT

“I admire him, but he didn’t change my mind at all about what we need to do,” Graham said, referring to Zelensky and adding that the Democrats were supposedly trying to “use” the Ukrainian leader “in a way that I think wasn’t helpful.” “I want to secure the border,” the senator said, adding that the number of people supposedly linked to various terrorist groups that were crossing America’s southern border was “just chilling.”

Another Republican Senator, Missouri’s Eric Schmitt, also said that the meeting was effectively reduced to “the same old stuff.” “There’s nothing new,” he told journalists, adding that the questions for the Ukrainian president “were very scripted.”

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Louisiana Republican Mike Johnson, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who also met Zelensky on Tuesday, pointed to the fact that the White House and Kiev were asking for billions of dollars with no oversight and no clear strategy that would allow Ukraine to prevail in the ongoing conflict.

“Their responses have been insufficient,” Johnson said, referring to the Biden administration and adding that he had been requesting details on Washington’s strategy for Ukraine “over and over since literally 24 hours after I was handed the gavel as Speaker of the House.”

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FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky meeting US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
US wants Ukraine to fight Russia on tighter budget – NYT

Lindsey Graham also told journalists that he’d told Zelensky to be thankful to the House Speaker for even being willing to place military aid for Ukraine on the agenda. “I said you need to thank Mike Johnson for being willing to pass a package if border security is in it, because half his conference probably doesn’t agree with that,” the senator said.

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The US has already provided Kiev with $111 billion in military and economic assistance since military confrontation between Moscow and Kiev began in February 2022. Washington has recently warned that funds for the government of Vladimir Zelensky have almost run out.

Last week, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that Kiev can’t expect additional funding until the gridlock in Congress is resolved. Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andrey Yermak, then warned that delays in US assistance could lead to Ukraine’s defeat by Russia.

The Kremlin said on Tuesday that any further assistance Washington decides to provide to Kiev is doomed to fail from the start. No amount of money can change the situation on the front lines, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

December 13, 2023 at 02:40AM
RT

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