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Zelenskyy to Speaker Johnson: Swift passage of aid for Ukraine by Congress is critical

Facing shortages and escalating Russian air terror, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy urges US House Speaker Johnson to rapidly greenlight the vote on the $60+ billion Ukraine military assistance bill, stalled by Republicans since last October.
Zelenskyy Ukraine
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Credit: CNN. Screenshot from video.
Zelenskyy to Speaker Johnson: Swift passage of aid for Ukraine by Congress is critical

Facing withering Russian bombardment and dwindling ammunition stocks, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on the US House speaker to swiftly approve a stalled military and financial aid package for Kyiv. In a phone call with US House Speaker Mike Johnson on 28 March, Zelenskyy stressed the critical necessity of rapidly passing the $60+ billion Ukraine assistance bill that has been held up for months by Congressional Republicans.

The foreign aid package has been stalled since last fall due largely to opposition from the far-right Republicans in the US Congress, suspending military assistance that Kyiv badly needs to fight Russia. The Senate passed a $95 billion foreign aid bill, including $60+ billion for Ukraine, last month with bipartisan support, yet Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson made clear he wouldn’t give it a vote on the House floorstating on 14 February that the House will not feel “rushed” to pass the package. Then Johnson had withheld the bill until the government funding issue was resolved, despite urgent requests from Kyiv.

The latest development in the saga was House Speaker Mike Johnson’s claimed commitment to bringing a vote on additional Ukraine funding to the House floor after the Easter recess, as Rep. Michael McCaul stated that Johnson is determined to hold the vote sometime after 9 April when Congress reconvenes.

“In this situation, a swift passage of aid for Ukraine by Congress is critical. We are aware that the House of Representatives has different opinions on how to do it, but the key is to keep the issue of assistance to Ukraine as a factor of unity,” Zelenskyy stated in the conversation with Mike Johnson, according to a press release at the President’s website.

The Ukrainian leader’s plea comes amid “the significant intensification of Russian aerial terror” as Russia has dramatically escalated its missile and drone attacks, conducting its largest strike on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure days ago, and significantly escalating air attacks on Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv.

Zelenskyy said that in just the past week, Ukrainian cities and towns were struck by 190 missiles, 140 Iranian-made Shahed drones, and 700 precision-guided bombs.

One of the country’s largest power stations, the Dnipro hydroelectric plant, was rendered inoperative in the onslaught. With the European Union’s pledged munitions deliveries also facing delays, Ukrainian forces are facing dire shortages on the battlefield as Russia ramps up deployment of its dwindling stockpile of advanced ballistic missiles.

Beyond immediate military needs, Zelenskyy urged the US Congress to take the lead in targeting Russia’s financing of its war machine.

“We also count on the leadership of Congress” to cut off Moscow’s revenue streams, he stated, referring specifically to the potential seizure of Russian assets frozen abroad:

“We also count on the leadership of the Congress in this regard,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted.

Moscow characterizes its recent attacks as retaliatory “revenge” strikes against Ukrainian attacks on Russian regions, according to Reuters. Russia has increased its use of harder-to-stop ballistic missiles, resulting in civilian casualties, despite Russia denying its deliberate attacks on residential areas.

The saga of Ukraine aid has continued in the US Congress for months since last October:

  • In October, the White House proposed a roughly $100 billion package for Ukraine, Israel, Indo-Pacific allies, and the border, but Republicans demanded pairing Kyiv’s aid with border security policy.
  • Bipartisan Senate talks on border security led to a deal backed by the National Border Patrol Council, but it was blocked by Republicans, citing insufficient southern border solutions.
  • The Senate passed the foreign aid part of the package without the border security agreement in a 70-29 vote in February, criticized by House Speaker Johnson, a Republican, for lacking border security policy.
  • Since February, House Speaker Johnson has been blocking the vote on the Senate-approved bill.

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