After shipping some $45 billion in military equipment to Ukraine, the Biden Administration is bringing Ukrainian President Zelensky back to Washington to beg for more money. But with the war going badly for Ukraine and strong US opposition to spending more on the effort, it looks to be an uphill battle.
Zelensky is first expected to attend and will likely address a special session on Ukraine at the UN Security Council (UNSC). This means fireworks and controversy will likely be unleashed at the assembly as it will be a rare moment that the Ukrainian leader speaks at a forum with Russian representatives in attendance, given Russia is a veto-wielding permanent member of the UNSC. Some 140 world leaders will attend the UN General Assembly in New York City this week.
The following day, Zelensky will drop in to the White House and attend meetings on Capitol Hill. He’s expected to press for more advanced weaponry, to be delivered at a faster rate, but Richard Gowan, an expert on the United Nations at the International Crisis Group, has explained to the AFP:
“If he’s too hardline, he may actually turn this opportunity into a bit of a diplomatic crisis,” he said.
And the Washington Post agrees that with the counteroffensive going so badly, it’ll be a tough sell…
Ukrainian officials had hoped to ride into New York this week touting major gains in their summer counteroffensive, but Russia’s entrenched forces have stymied efforts to achievea major breakthrough, and both sides continue to sustain heavy casualties.
The conflict’s toll on food and energy prices has accelerated calls in the developing world for a negotiated settlement. And support among the Americanpublic has been slipping as a segment of the Republican Party criticizesthe war effort’s estimated $73 billion price tag.
Still, WaPo calls Zelensky the “conflict’s most charismatic voice” and it’s expected he’ll present a dramatic narrative of horrific Russian atrocities and human rights abuses.
But by and large his “star power” has faded since his first visit to Washington in December 2022, given also the fickle American public has generally grown war-weary, recent polls reflect, and as headlines covering the conflict have come and gone with rapidity, getting less and less featured in the front pages of US newspapers or on the big TV networks when compared to the frequency of a year ago.
Currently, there’s ongoing talk within the administration of Ukraine getting approval for the MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), which has a max range of 190 miles. Certainly Zelensky is going to press for this and more. Will Biden make this the focus of a “big” announcement when he greets Zelensky at the White House later this week?