Top U.S. Senate leaders will host an all-members meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday, according to a Senate leadership aide, as House Republicans are preparing to block a Biden administration request for $24 billion in emergency Ukraine war funds.
Zelenskyy is expected to meet President Joe Biden at the White House the same day, traveling to Washington after attending the United Nations General Assembly. He’s expected to seek renewed commitments by U.S. leaders to help Ukraine’s fight to regain occupied land from Russia.
Zelenskyy will address the UN General Assembly Tuesday and will attend a Security Council meeting Wednesday on Ukraine focusing on the principles of the U.N. Charter, which require every country to respect others’ sovereignty and territorial integrity. The meeting could create the unique spectacle of placing Zelenskyy and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the same room.
Chuck Schumer, the Democratic majority leader in the Senate, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are due to host the meeting with Zelenskyy on Capitol Hill.
Congress faces a Sept. 30 deadline for the end of the fiscal year, with no solution in sight to avoid a potential government shutdown. Conservative hard-liners in the House have threatened to shut down the government if the budget deal includes more aid to Ukraine.
Ahead of Zelenskyy’s visit, four top Senate Republicans pushed Biden to provide Ukraine with long-range missiles. The letter rejects the argument by some conservatives that the aid dips too far into the U.S. weapon supply, saying only a small part of U.S. stockpiles would be needed.
The trip will be Zelenskyy’s first visit to Washington in more than six months.
Underlying the entire week is the prospect that the very reason for the United Nations’ existence — to bring countries together to foster peace and security — is becoming more difficult because of divisions between the West, Russia and China, and the rise of regional and like-minded groups that are creating a multipolar world.