U.S. President Joe Biden assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Thursday that strong U.S. support for his war to repel Russian invaders will be maintained despite opposition from some Republican lawmakers to sending billions more in aid.
Biden and Zelenskiy held a war council in the White House East Room as part of a blizzard of appearances the Ukraine leader made looking to bolster U.S. support for a war that began in February 2022 and has no end in sight.
“Mr. President, we’re with you, we’re staying with you,” Biden told Zelenskiy before reaching across the table and shaking his hand after two hours of talks.
Zelenskiy thanked Biden for a new $325 million military aid package of weaponry and air defenses, saying “it has exactly what our soldiers need now.”
He said he and Biden agreed on specific steps to expand the export of grain from Ukraine in the face of a Russian blockade and tensions with neighbor Poland. He did not detail the steps.
Biden’s request for $24 billion in more Ukraine funding to help pay for Ukraine’s defense and humanitarian aid through the end of the year is bottled up in a budget fight pushed by Republican hardliners in the House of Representatives.
Asked how to overcome the opposition, Biden said the only way was approval by the U.S. Congress.
“I’m counting on the good judgment of the United States Congress. There’s no alternative,” he said.
Comments from Republican Senator Rand Paul, a frequent critic of foreign aid, were emblematic of the opposition. He told Fox Business News that Ukraine is a “corrupt regime” and that the war has no end in sight.
Biden said the first American Abrams tanks will be delivered to Ukraine next week.
“Just as we’re committed to helping Ukraine defend itself now, we’re also committed to helping them recover and rebuild in the future, including supporting reforms that will combat corruption,” Biden said.