The apparent intensification comes after Ukraine’s vaulted counteroffensive earlier this year failed to recapture significant amounts of occupied territory, and during Zelenskyy’s hurriedly-organized visit to Washington, where he was meeting with President Joe Biden and hoping to convince Congress to greenlight the $61 billion military aid package.
The aid deal has stalled amid disagreements over U.S. immigration policies and growing Republican skepticism about providing Ukraine with more military help. Washington has committed far more military aid to Ukraine than any other country.
Around the same time last year, Zelenskyy received a hero’s welcome as he addressed Congress on his first trip outside wartime Ukraine as Republicans were preparing to take control of the House.
One of Zelenskyy’s top aides said last week that if the United States postpones aid to Ukraine, there is a “big risk” the country could lose the war. The White House has also warned that the lack of aid would not only “kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield,” but also increase the likelihood of Russian military victories.
The Western-supplied weapons and ammunition have helped Ukraine stand its ground across a front line that stretches for hundreds of miles, but they have not made major gains against Russian forces.
And with global attention increasingly diverted toward the war in Gaza, Ukraine has been struggling to maintain its place in international headlines — something that Zelenskyy said could be lethal for his country’s ability to get more aid and, ultimately, its very survival.
“The world’s focus of attention is moving due to events in the East,” Zelenskyy said in a briefing with reporters last month. “We have no right to make a mistake, it will be lethal for us.”
The Kremlin, meanwhile, dismissed Zelenskyy’s efforts in Washington.
Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a daily briefing that Zelenskyy’s meeting with Biden wouldn’t change the course of the war. Any new funds for Kyiv would meet the same fate as the “tens of billions of dollars pumped into Ukraine” already that “did not help it gain any success on the battlefield,” he said, according to the Russian state news agency Tass.
In fact, Ukrainian forces prompted surprise around the world when they successfully faced down the far larger and more powerful Russian military after the February 2022 invasion.