Zelensky will meet Biden at the White House amid a bigger push for Congress to approve more aid

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken speaks, with two flags behind him
“This is a time to really step up because if we don’t, we know what happens,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, pictured Thursday, said on Sunday about aid for Ukraine. “Putin will be able to move forward with impunity and we know he won’t stop in Ukraine.”
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

President Biden and Ukraine’s leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, will meet at the White House on Tuesday as the Biden administration steps up pressure on Congress to provide billions more in aid to Kyiv to continue defending itself almost two years after a Russian invasion.

The visit is intended “to underscore the United States’ unshakeable commitment to supporting the people of Ukraine as they defend themselves against Russia’s brutal invasion,” the White House said in a statement Sunday. “As Russia ramps up its missile and drone strikes against Ukraine, the leaders will discuss Ukraine’s urgent needs and the vital importance of the United States’ continued support at this critical moment.”

Zelensky’s office confirmed that he had accepted Biden’s invitation. He also has been asked to speak to a meeting of all senators.

Biden has asked Congress for a $110-billion package of wartime funding for Ukraine ($61.4 billion) and Israel, along with other national security priorities. But the request is caught up in a debate over U.S. immigration policy and border security.


Zelensky traveled to Buenos Aires to witness the swearing-in on Sunday of Argentina’s new president, Javier Milei. It was the Ukrainian leader’s first official trip to Latin America as Kyiv continues to court support among developing nations for its 21-month-old fight against Russia’s invading forces. Milei welcomed Zelensky at the presidential palace after his inauguration. The two shared an extended hug, exchanged words and then Milei, who has said he intends to convert to Judaism, presented his Ukrainian counterpart with a menorah as a gift.

Zelensky met separately with the presidents of Paraguay, Ecuador and Uruguay, his office said. And he met the prime minister of the West African island nation of Cape Verde, Ulisses Correia e Silva, on his way to Buenos Aires.

The Ukrainian leader had been scheduled to address U.S. senators by video last week, but had to cancel the appearance, according to Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York.

Congress already has allocated $111 billion to assist Ukraine, and Biden’s budget director, Shalanda Young, said in a letter last week to House and Senate leaders that the U.S. will run out of funding to send weapons and assistance to Ukraine by the end of the year, which would “kneecap” Ukraine on the battlefield.

“It’s time to cut a deal that both sides can agree to,” Young said Sunday.

Argentina’s President-elect Javier Milei has shown public interest in Judaism, incorporating shofars at campaign rallies and visiting a rabbi’s tomb.

Dec. 9, 2023

The stakes are especially high for Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said during two television interviews Sunday, given that “we are running out of funding” for the Ukrainians. “This is a time to really step up because if we don’t, we know what happens. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin will be able to move forward with impunity and we know he won’t stop in Ukraine.”

Earlier, he defended the emergency sale to Israel of nearly 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition and also called for quick congressional approval of the foreign assistance. Blinken said the needs of Israel’s military operations in Gaza justify the rare decision to bypass Congress. “Israel is in combat right now with Hamas,” he said. “And we want to make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against Hamas.”

The tank ammunition and related support constitute only a small portion of military sales to Israel, Blinken said, and the rest remains subject to congressional review. “It’s very important that Congress‘ voice be heard in this,” he said.


The decision to proceed with the sale of more than $106 million for tank shells came as the administration’s larger aid package is caught up in an immigration debate.

Blinken noted that Biden has said he is willing to make significant compromises to get the aid package moving. “It’s something the president is fully prepared to engage on,” Blinken said.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said there is bipartisan agreement that something has to be done to address record numbers of migrants crossing into the United States from Mexico.

“We want to solve that, to secure the border. I just saw the president of the United States say that we’ve got to secure the border. He’s right. So, any effort that doesn’t do that will be rejected by Republicans,” Romney said.

Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) said the administration has yet to justify additional aid to Ukraine, which has thus far fended off Russia since its February 2022 invasion with the help of international aid. “So what we’re saying to the president and really to the entire world is, you need to articulate what the ambition is. What is $61 billion going to accomplish that $100 billion hasn’t?” Vance said.

Sen. Christopher S. Murphy (D-Conn.) said the money would make a difference because Russia is struggling to fund its war effort. “It can change the outcome of this war,” Murphy said. “Because at the very same time that we are making a renewed commitment to Ukraine, Russia’s ability to continue to fight this war is in jeopardy.”

Romney said he also supports the aid to Ukraine. “My own view is that it’s very much in America’s interest to see Ukraine successful and to provide the weapons that Ukraine needs to defend itself. Anything other than that would be a huge dereliction of our responsibility, I believe, to the world of democracy but also to our own national interest,” he said.

Blinken appeared on ABC’s “This Week” and CNN’s “State of the Union.” Romney and Murphy were on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Vance was on CNN. Young was on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”