Washington, Sep 21 (EFE).- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky went to the US Congress on Thursday to persuade the most conservative wing of the Republican Party, whose most recognized member is former President Donald Trump (2017-2021), of the need to continue sending military aid to Ukraine.
“If we don’t get help, we will lose the war,” he said during a closed-door meeting with a group of senators later revealed by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
This blunt message and Zelensky’s presence in the halls of Congress sought to underscore the gravity of the moment in the invasion that Russia launched in February 2022.
The behavior of the Democratic and Republican leaders with Zelensky was as relevant as the content of their statements.
The Ukrainian leader continues to have the backing of the Senate, where Democrats hold the majority and Republicans are more moderate, but faces challenges in the Lower House, where the pro-Trump wing has significant weight.
His meeting with the senators occurred in the old Senate chamber, a historic and highly symbolic venue.
At the end of the meeting, Zelensky addressed the press and said that the senators had “asked him a lot of questions” while expressing appreciation for America’s support.
However, while Schumer and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell escorted Zelensky through the halls of Congress before the cameras in a clear show of support, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was not even present to greet him upon his arrival at the Capitol.
McCarthy faces the wing of his party most sympathetic to Trump, which opposes sending more aid to Ukraine. On Thursday, more than a score of lower House Republicans sent the White House a letter to clarify their displeasure.
Instead of posing for the cameras, McCarthy held a closed-door meeting with Zelensky, who during his December visit to Washington, delivered a speech to both houses of Congress that drew applause from members of both benches.
However, the atmosphere Zelensky encountered on this visit to Congress was different. McCarthy even refused a request from the Ukrainian president to address both houses of Congress again.
“Zelensky asked for a joint session, but we don’t have time. He already gave a speech before both houses of Congress,” McCarthy justified himself in statements to the press.
The Ukrainian president wants his visit to increase pressure on Congress to approve the additional $24 billion in aid to Ukraine that the White House has requested. However, much depends on the most extremist wing of the Republican Party.
Trump, who starts as a favorite to face the president, Joe Biden, in the 2024 elections, opposes sending more aid to Ukraine and, on Monday, on his social network Truth Social, questioned sending more assistance. He considered that Europe should increase its contributions.
The United States has sent Ukraine $43.8 billion in aid since the Russian invasion began. EFE