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Zelensky made his case to Congress. What happens next?

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Washignton, D.C.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Washignton, D.C.

In a historic address to a joint session of the US Congress on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded his case for why the US should continue greenlighting security aid to his country. So what’s Zelensky getting and what does he still want? The Biden administration announced this week that it was earmarking another $45 billion – part of a sprawling $1.7 trillion government spending bill that passed the Senate on Thursday and awaits a House vote – in military assistance to Ukraine. Half of the funds will go toward arming Ukraine’s army and replenishing US stockpiles. Crucially, an additional $1.85 billion package was announced on Wednesday that includes the Patriot air defense system that Kyiv has long been requesting to help protect its energy infrastructure from Russian bombardments.

Still, the White House has not delivered other items on Kyiv's “Christmas wishlist,” including US and German-made battle tanks. (Berlin says it is following Washington’s lead on this). When asked this week by a Ukrainian journalist why Washington doesn’t give Ukraine everything it needs, including “long-range missiles,” Biden gave a waffly answer about the “prospect of breaking up NATO and breaking up the European Union.” But the real reason is likely that the White House wants to keep its support for Ukraine incremental and see how the Kremlin might respond. For more on how Zelensky’s pitch is landing in Washington, Clayton Allen, director for the United States at Eurasia Group, shares his perspective in US Politics in 60 Seconds.


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