Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made an impassioned plea for continued US military support Monday in a Washington speech, warning that failure to help his country defeat Russian invasion is fulfilling the Kremlin’s “dreams” of wrecking democracy in Europe.

Addressing an audience of US officers at the National Defense University, Zelensky said Ukraine is fighting not just for its own existence but in defense of the freedoms that opened up across Europe in the wake of the Soviet collapse.

In a rebuke to Republicans in Congress who have turned against US funding for the Ukrainian war effort, Zelensky said politicians should not “betray the soldier” and he said the drying up of US aid was being cheered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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“If there’s one inspired by unresolved issues on Capitol Hill its just Putin and his sick clique,” he said. “They see their dreams come true when they see delays.”

“You can count on Ukraine and we hope just as much to be able to count on you,” Zelensky said. “Putin must lose.”

The Ukrainian leader, who wore his trademark army style green sweatshirt, emblazoned with the words “I’m Ukrainian,” flew into Washington after a round of diplomacy this weekend in Argentina.

He was due to meet Tuesday with President Joe Biden and congressional leaders from both parties, including Republican House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson.

NATO and the Ever-Elusive Ukrainian Victory
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NATO and the Ever-Elusive Ukrainian Victory

President Zelensky says that defining what constitutes victory is central to building a war-winning strategy but acknowledges that others may understand victory differently from him.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the visit came at “a critical time” and that Biden would make it clear he was “standing firm” on his bid to get Ukraine the aid it needs to resupply its troops and expand efforts to drive back Russian forces.

Zelensky was also meeting the heads of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank as he seeks to shore up his embattled nation’s economy in the midst of the all-out war. The IMF announced the release of a new $900 million tranche in an ongoing long-term loan.

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Republican senators last week blocked a White House request for $106 billion in emergency aid primarily for Ukraine and Israel.

Conservatives said they would refuse the package for the close foreign allies if Democrats and the White House did not also agree to far-ranging immigration reforms targeting security on the politically sensitive US-Mexican border.

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