Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to Washington was a moment for the White House to show Russian President Vladimir Putin that the United States will remain committed to the war for “as long as it takes,” as President Joe Biden put it.

He also gave the Ukrainian president, clad in army green, the opportunity to take advantage of the grand stage on Capitol Hill to thank Congress for the billions of dollars that are keeping his country in the fight.

“As long as it takes” are weighty words, but they run up against a formidable question: How patient will a narrowly divided Congress — and the American people — have for a war with no end in sight? horizon and what is hitting the global economy?

Most Americans, according to polls, continue to favor aid to Ukraine after it has successfully repelled Russian armed forces that some US officials initially believed would quickly crush the Ukrainian military.

But with the help of some $21.3 billion in US military assistance since the invasion began in February, the Ukrainians, though outnumbered, have managed to rack up battlefield successes and inflict heavy casualties among Russian soldiers.

Zelenskyy, sitting next to Biden in the Oval Office with the fireplace blazing in the background, acknowledged that Ukraine was in a better position thanks to the bipartisan support it has received from Congress.

“We got the situation under control thanks to your support,” said Zelenskyy, who presented Biden with a medal that had been awarded to the Ukrainian captain of a HIMARS battery, a rocket system delivered by the United States, and which the officer wanted the president to American had.

Yet even as both Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell say support for Ukraine is a fundamental part of American interests, the bipartisan unity around Ukraine was beginning to dissipate.

“I hope we continue to support Ukraine, but we have to explain what they’re doing all the time,” Republican Sen. Rick Scott said shortly before Zelenskyy landed in Washington on Wednesday afternoon. “I think these kinds of things have to continue to be promoted to the American public. I don’t think you can just say it’s for as long as it takes.”

Shortly before Zelenskyy’s arrival, the United States announced a $1.85 billion military assistance package for Ukraine that includes Patriot surface-to-air missiles, and Congress planned to vote on a spending bill that includes another $45 billion in military aid. emergency for Ukraine.

Pelosi and other officials compared Zelenskyy’s visit to that of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1941 to talk with President Franklin D. Roosevelt after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

In a letter to fellow lawmakers Wednesday, Pelosi noted that her father, Rep. Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., was a member of the House when Churchill visited Congress the day after Christmas to “garner our nation’s support in the fight against tyranny in Europe”.

“This week marks 81 years, and it is particularly moving for me to be present as another heroic leader addresses Congress in a time of war, and with democracy itself at stake,” said Pelosi, who will soon be leaving her post as House Speaker. lower house once Republicans take control of the House of Representatives.

Biden, who was born less than a year after Churchill’s historic visit, stressed the enormous strength that Zelenskyy has shown throughout the conflict. “This man is who he says he is, down to the depths of his soul. It is clear who he is. He is ready to give his life for his country, ”Biden declared during a press conference next to the Ukrainian president.

In a speech on the Senate floor, McConnell argued that supporting Ukraine is simply pragmatic.

“Maintaining our support for Ukraine is morally correct, but it is not only that. It is also a direct investment in the interests of the United States,” said the legislator.

However, there are signs of discontent among the conference of Republicans.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who is bidding to be the next House speaker when Republicans take over next year, has said his party will not write a “blank check” for Ukraine once he is in charge.

Some of the more right-wing members of the Republican conference have criticized McConnell for his support of Ukraine.

Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene took to Twitter Wednesday morning to accuse McConnell of pushing through a $1.7 trillion budget initiative that includes new funding for Ukraine “so I can hand you a check for $47 billion.” dollars to Zelenskyy when he comes to DC today.”

“But in my district, many families and the elderly cannot afford food and many businesses are in trouble because of Biden’s policies,” added the Georgia representative.

For now, Taylor Greene is the exception rather than the norm.

Unlike other conflicts in which the United States has been directly involved in the past half century—Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan—the cost of helping Ukraine has been purely financial.

Although the far right has begun to turn up the volume on its budget skepticism, it is easier to sell Ukraine’s cause than those protracted and costly conflicts, said Elliot Abrams, who has served in senior national security and foreign relations posts. during the governments of Donald Trump, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

“With Ukraine, I think it’s much easier to make the case that helping kyiv resist Russian aggression is a worthwhile thing, and wearing down the Russian military is a worthwhile thing,” said Abrams, who now chairs the Vandenberg Coalition. a conservative group on foreign policy. “And the cost of American lives is zero.”

As the war in Ukraine stretches past 300 days, polls show that Americans care less and are increasingly against aid from their country. In September, just 18% of American adults said their country was not giving Ukraine enough support, according to the Pew Research Center, compared with 31% in May and 42% in March.

A similar number — 20% — said in September that the United States was giving too much support. About a third said the level of support was appropriate and about 25% said they weren’t sure.

Republicans outscored Democrats 3-1 in saying support was too much: 32% to 11%.

Biden acknowledged that the last 10 months have been difficult and regretted that President Putin has shown no indication that he has the “dignity” to put an end to the invasion. She assured Zelenskyy that the United States is not going anywhere.

“You don’t have to worry, we’re with Ukraine,” Biden declared.

Petr Pudil, a board member of Globsec, a Slovakia-based NGO, said Zelenskyy’s mission to keep the United States involved is complicated, but he has been able to. A few weeks ago, Pudil’s group helped organize a visit by Ukrainian lawmakers to Washington, where they explained that US support will be needed for some time, while assuring Congress that their efforts will not be wasted.

“One of Zelenskyy’s objectives for this trip is to convince those who are still skeptical that victory is a real option,” Pudil said. “But it can only be done if they provide the right support. Everyone must understand that there is a chance to win.”

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