Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to address members of the U.S. Senate Tuesday amid a push by the White House for Congress to urgently approve new funding to help Ukraine in its defense against Russia’s invasion.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Zelenskyy was invited to speak via video at a classified briefing “so we can hear directly from him precisely what’s at stake” when lawmakers vote on a bill that includes billions of dollars in aid for Ukraine.
Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young warned in a letter to congressional leaders Monday that by the end of the year, the U.S. will no longer have the funds to send weapons and assistance to Ukraine. It “will not be able to keep fighting,” Young said of Ukraine, noting that the U.S. has already run out of money for propping up Ukraine’s economy.
In October, the Biden administration asked Congress for nearly $106 billion to fund ambitious plans for Ukraine, Israel and U.S. border security.
Funding for Ukraine has become politically controversial with some right-leaning lawmakers in the narrowly Republican-controlled Congress.
However, Young said in the letter released by the White House that cutting off funding and a flow of weapons to Ukraine would likely work to Russia’s advantage on the battlefield.
“I want to be clear: Without congressional action, by the end of the year we will run out of resources to procure more weapons and equipment for Ukraine, to provide equipment from U.S. military stocks,” she wrote. “There is no magical pot of funding available to meet this moment. We are out of money — and nearly out of time,” she said.
Diplomatic envoys of the EU’s 27 member countries will meet Tuesday to start debating a launch of EU membership talks with Ukraine, according to officials and diplomats.
The meeting marks the start of preparations among the 27 for the December 14-15 summit of the bloc’s leaders that will also assess and decide on EU integration prospects for Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Bosnia and others.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has demanded that Ukraine’s membership bid into the European Union not be on the agenda at the EU summit.
In a letter he sent to European Council President Charles Michel, who will chair the summit in Brussels, Orban insisted that a “strategic discussion” is needed first about Ukraine’s European future and warned that forcing a decision could destroy EU unity.
Orban, who is widely considered one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies in Europe, maintains that Ukraine is “light years away” from becoming an EU member.
He wrote that EU leaders “must avoid this counterproductive scenario for the sake of unity, our most important asset.” He did not explicitly say that Hungary would veto any moves to open membership talks with Ukraine, but the threat was implicit.
Decisions regarding EU membership and EU’s long-term budget, which includes $54.1 billion in assistance for Kyiv, can only be made unanimously by all 27 member countries.
Russia’s defense ministry said Tuesday the country’s air defense systems destroyed or intercepted at least 35 Ukrainian drones.
The ministry said on Telegram it thwarted the attempted Ukrainian attacks over the Crimean Peninsula and the Sea of Azov.
Ukraine’s military said Tuesday that Russia attacked overnight with 17 Iran-made Shahed drones, with Ukrainian air defenses destroying 10 of the drones.
It also said Russia launched six guided missiles targeting the Donetsk and Kherson regions.
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.