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21 Sep, 2023 08:04

US House speaker denies Zelensky limelight – NYT

The Ukrainian president will reportedly not get to address the House of Representatives to appeal for more aid
US House speaker denies Zelensky limelight – NYT

Kevin McCarthy, the US House speaker, has decided not to allow Ukraine’s President Vladimir Zelensky to address the chamber during his visit to Capitol Hill on Thursday, the New York Times has reported.

The top GOP lawmaker will hold a private meeting with Zelensky, the newspaper said on Wednesday. Representatives who want to hear from the Ukrainian leader will be able to do so at the National Archives, at an event organized by the Congressional Ukraine Caucus. The Senate will host the visiting head of state, as he had requested.

Zelensky traveled to the US this week to deliver a speech to the UN General Assembly and to urge American officials to maintain support for Kiev. The administration of US President Joe Biden has asked Congress to authorize an additional $24 billion in Ukraine assistance, and Zelensky had hoped that his personal appeal would facilitate its passage.

While backing Ukraine against Russia remains a popular position for Republicans, there are growing signs of pushback against maintaining the current level of assistance.

“There’s no money in the House right now for Ukraine. It’s not there,” Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida told journalists ahead of Zelensky’s visit.

“To be blunt, we’re running a $2 trillion deficit. Any money we give to Ukraine, we’re borrowing from our future,” he added, stating that it was “not a good time” for Zelensky to visit.

McCarthy also questioned the level of military aid to Ukraine, saying: “Where’s the accountability on the money we’ve already spent? What is the plan for victory? I think that’s what the American public wants to know.”

Skepticism in the US has been fuelled by concerns of graft in Ukraine. Weeks before his trip to New York, Zelensky sacked his defense minister, who was widely perceived as failing to tackle corruption in his department.

This week, Reuters cited a Ukrainian construction executive, who accused Oleg Tatarov, now a senior aide to the president for law enforcement, of having a record of bribing the authorities. Tatarov dismissed the allegations as a politically motivated attack.