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Zelenskyy meets with Biden and leaders in Congress as time runs out on war aid: Highlights

The Ukrainian president made a direct plea for more aid to Republicans in Congress, including Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., the biggest obstacle to Biden’s funding request.

The latest news on Zelenskyy's visit to Washington

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with President Joe Biden at the White House today to discuss the impasse in Washington over more aid in the war with Russia. The two leaders then held a joint news conference, where Zelenskyy said it was "insane" to suggest his country cede territory to Russia. Biden warned that Putin will keep going if he's victorious in Ukraine.
  • Zelenskyy met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including senators in a closed-door gathering this morning. Afterward, he met with House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., who has been the biggest obstacle to Biden's aid request.
  • Republicans have pushed back against Biden's proposed aid package, which includes funding for Israel and U.S. border operations, unless Democrats agree to pair the aid with tougher border policies.
  • Zelenskyy made a plea for more funding in remarks yesterday at the National Defense University. He also met with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva yesterday as the IMF convened over the release of additional funds for Ukraine.

Zelenskyy: 'Of course' Ukraine will win the war

Zelenskyy, in an exclusive interview with NBC News after the joint news conference with Biden, said his meetings with lawmakers were helpful in that he got a chance to offer a detailed explanation of progress in his country’s war against Russia.

“I think we had a very good meeting with the senators,” Zelenskyy said, surrounded by security guards in green uniforms as he left the Hall of the States building after an appearance on Fox News. “And we spoke with both parties represented. I think they didn’t know all the details about what was going on in the battlefield.”

“Yes, they recognized that we had really good success on the Black Sea against Russian ships, and it’s very good,” he continued.

Zelenskyy also described his meeting with Biden as a positive one. Asked whether he believed Ukraine would win the war, he said: “Yes, of course.”

Zelenskyy calls today's Washington meetings 'very constructive'

Zelenskyy said in a Fox News interview that his meeting with Biden and lawmakers on Capitol Hill was "very constructive" and that he heard "positive voices from both parties."

"I spoke with senators and President Biden and with the [House] speaker," Zelenskyy told Fox News' Brett Baier this evening, adding that during his visit he has highlighted what's needed for success on the battlefield against Russia.

As Congress considers supplemental funding to Ukraine, Zelenskyy said, "I think that's it's very important not to waste time."

Joint news conference ends

The Biden-Zelenskyy joint news conference ended around 5:30 p.m. ET.

It lasted just under 27 minutes, with each leader taking questions after making opening statements.

Biden reiterates that NATO is in Ukraine's future

Asked about NATO, Biden repeated remarks he has made before that "NATO will be in Ukraine's future, no question about that."

He said that Ukraine will become a NATO member once all allies agree and conditions are met but that now the U.S. needed to make sure Ukraine wins the war.

NATO's Article 5 states that an attack against one member is an attack on all.

Zelenskyy rejects as 'insane' any suggestion of ceding territory to Russia

Zelenskyy was asked how he would respond to the suggestion that his country should cede some of its territory to Russia.

"That’s insane, to be honest," Zelenskyy said. "We have our people there. We have our families there. We have our children there. That's a part of Ukrainian society, and we are talking about human beings."

Zelenskyy said that Ukrainians were being tortured, raped and killed and that giving up territory was tantamount to "giving up our people."

"It's not a matter of territory — it's a matter of life, of families, of children, of their histories," he said.

Zelenskyy: Putin 'hasn't won any victories'

Zelenskyy highlighted his country's fight for freedom, arguing that the freedom of one country affects others.

"We stand firm no matter what Putin tries," Zelenskyy said. "He hasn’t won any victories."

Zelenskyy also said that whoever controls the skies controls the war's duration. The Ukrainian president repeatedly thanked Biden and said American leadership is "crucial" in maintaining unity among other world leaders.

Biden says Putin will keep going if he isn't stopped in Ukraine

Biden said alongside Zelenskyy that Russian President Vladimir Putin poses threats beyond Ukraine.

“Today, Ukraine’s freedom is on the line. But if we don’t stop Putin, it will endanger the freedom of everyone almost everywhere,” Biden said.

"Putin will keep going, and would-be aggressors everywhere will be emboldened to try to take what they can by force," he added.

He also said Republicans who voted to oppose supplemental aid to Ukraine were being “celebrated by Russian propagandists.”

Schumer: Senate 'still trying' to pass aid bill before January

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said today that the Senate hasn't given up on passing supplemental Ukraine aid before the end of the year.

“We’re still trying. We are trying very, very hard to get this done,” Schumer told reporters today.

The remark came after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., suggested that it would be "practically impossible" for Congress to pass a national security supplemental aid package before January.

The House is set to leave at the end of the week until 2024, but Schumer has asked House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., to keep the House in session to allow for negotiations to continue.

When asked by NBC News whether he regretted that the White House had included border funding in their supplemental request, Schumer pointed the finger back at Republicans.

"Let’s get real here, the Republicans have been tying border to Ukraine for a long time, no matter what the White House did," Schumer said.

"The White House has put together a bill, but they’re not the ones, it’s not the White House that’s demanding border as part of Ukraine," he added. "It’s the Republicans, plain and simple."

Biden: 'Ukraine will emerge from this war proud ... unless we walk away'

During the news conference, Biden said that he will not walk away from Ukraine, and neither will the American people.

"Ukraine will emerge from this war, proud, free and firmly rooted in the West, unless we walk away," Biden said.

He also condemned Republicans holding Ukraine funding "hostage" in an attempt to push through border policy changes.

Biden and Zelenskyy hold news conference after meeting

Biden and Zelenskyy entered the room for their joint news conference after meeting at the White House.

The news conference is taking place in the Indian Treaty Room.

GOP senator says Ukraine should cede land, cut a deal with Putin

Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, yesterday dismissed fears of Russia’s military capabilities under President Vladimir Putin and suggested Ukraine should give up some of its land to end the war.

“If you look at the size of the Russian armed forces, if you look at what would be necessary to conquer all of Ukraine, much less to go further and further west into Europe, I don’t think the guy’s shown any capacity to be able to accomplish these, these imperialistic goals, assuming that he has them,” Vance told reporters.

Vance also reiterated that he believes “there will be negotiation” and Ukraine should be willing to give up at least some of its territory to end the war, which began in February 2022.

“It ends the way nearly every single war has ever ended: when people negotiate and each side gives up something that it doesn’t want to give up,” Vance said.

Read the full story here.

Zelenskyy: Ukraine is 'moving in the right direction'

Zelenskyy said during remarks at the White House that Ukraine is "gradually becoming less dependent on aid" and "moving in the right direction," according to a pool report.

The Ukrainian president also detailed his recent meetings with U.S. defense companies, as well as officials from the IMF and World Bank.

"I thanked them — all the workers, engineers, managers who build the strength of American weapons," Zelenskyy said of his meeting with the defense companies, according to the pool report. "Helping Ukraine boosts the development of arsenals of democracy."

In meeting with Zelenskyy, Biden says U.S. can't let Putin succeed

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Biden spoke for a few moments before his Oval Office meeting with Zelenskyy, saying that the U.S. will stand by Ukraine's side and noted that they face an "inflection point" in history.

Biden said the U.S. can't and won't let Putin succeed in his war with Ukraine.

"I called on Congress to do the right thing — to stand with Ukraine and to stand up for freedom," Biden said.

The president also said he had just signed a $200 million Defense Department drawdown of military aid for Ukraine.

Zelenskyy says Ukraine will celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25

During his meeting with Hill Democrats, Zelenskyy made the point of telling Jeffries and other lawmakers that Ukraine will be celebrating Christmas this year on Dec. 25 instead of Jan. 7, which is when the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates it, according to a source in the room.

McConnell says it's 'practically impossible' to pass a supplemental before the end of the year

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said it's "practically impossible" to pass a national security supplemental by the end of the year, noting that the House will leave at the end of the week until 2024.

"I think the [House] speaker has said to a number of people, and he can speak for himself, but he’s apparently said to a number of people they’re leaving at the end of the week," McConnell told reporters at a news conference.

"So, all I’ve said is it’s practically impossible, even though we reach an agreement, to craft it, get it through the Senate and get it to the House before Christmas," McConnell continued. "That doesn’t mean it’s not important. And even though we’ve been emphasizing the border, I want to remind everybody of the importance of Ukraine. We heard from the [Ukrainian] president today. He is inspirational."

Republican senators brought up border security during Zelenskyy meeting

Frank Thorp Vproducer and off-air reporter

During Zelenskyy's meeting with senators about his country’s need for more military aid, some Republicans brought up the need for border provisions to be included in any bill that sends Ukraine aid. 

Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota said that “several different members” brought up the negotiations about border security and that Zelenskyy “made it clear that he understood that that was an issue, he talked and he was there to talk about their needs, and he did a very good job of not getting involved — not being pulled into the discussion.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina says he brought up the negotiations during his remarks in the meeting and told Zelenskyy to “thank Mike Johnson for being willing to pass a package if border security is in it because half of his conference probably doesn’t agree with that.” 

“When you see him thank him, you know, he’s being helpful here, Mr. President,” Graham said he told Zelenskyy. “You’re in the middle of something you didn’t create.”

Graham said Zelenskyy didn’t respond, but said, “He just listened, he just nodded when I said tell Mike Johnson thank you for being willing to support a package.”

Top Democrat knocks Johnson for not inviting all House members to meet with Zelenskyy

House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., took a shot at Johnson for not inviting all members of the House to meet with Zelenskyy.

Before separate meetings with House GOP and Democratic leaders, Zelenskyy met with all senators during a meeting that Schumer organized.

"We just thank him for coming out, and [having] the courage to come here," Aguilar said after he attended a meeting between Zelenskyy and Democratic leaders. "Unfortunately, House Republicans didn’t extend that offer to meet like the Senate did — to meet with all members.

"It would have been nice if Speaker Johnson conveyed that, but he didn’t."

Aguilar said the “important takeaway is we have to do everything we can to help Ukraine fight for democracy, fight for their sovereignty.” 

He added that there was not any talk about the U.S.-Mexico border or immigration during the meeting with Zelenskyy. 

Johnson says GOP needs border security and a strategy before giving more aid

After a closed-door meeting with Zelenskyy, Johnson told reporters House Republicans will not agree to additional aid for Ukraine unless the White House satisfies two conditions: Include border security in the aid package, and provide a detailed strategy on how Ukraine can win the war against Russia.

“I reiterated to him that we stand with him against Putin’s brutal invasion. The American people stand for freedom and they’re on the right side on this fight,” Johnson said. “We need a clear articulation of the strategy to allow Ukraine to win. And thus far, their responses have been insufficient.”

"They have not provided us the clarity and the detail that we requested over and over since literally 24 hours after I was handed the gavel as speaker of the House,” he continued.

“And so what the Biden administration seems to be asking for is billions of additional dollars with no appropriate oversight, no clear strategy to win, and none of the answers that I think the American people are owed.”

Schumer says he urged Johnson to keep House in session for aid negotiations

Frank Thorp Vproducer and off-air reporter

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., spoke on the Senate floor about Zelenskyy’s visit with senators and said he called House Speaker Mike Johnson to ask him to stay in session until border negotiations have been completed.

"President Zelenskyy’s message was direct: Ukraine will win the war against Russia if more aid is approved," Schumer said, but if "no more aid is approved, Putin will win, it’s that simple."

“Last night, I got on the phone with Speaker Johnson and urged him to keep the House in session to give a supplemental a chance to come together,” Schumer said.

“If we abandon Ukraine to the dark forces of autocracy, we will all pay a price,” he added.

Zelenskyy wraps up Capitol Hill meetings

Zelenskyy has departed the Capitol after a roughly half-hour meeting with Speaker Mike Johnson.

Zelenskyy took no questions as he left the building. He's heading to the White House now for a meeting with Biden.

Zelenskyy heads to meetings with the House

Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Hakeem Jeffries
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, left, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy walk to a meeting at the Capitol on Tuesday.Mark Schiefelbein / AP

Zelenskyy is holding meetings in the House now. He first met with Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.; Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar; and other Democrats.

Jeffries then escorted Zelenskyy to his next meeting, but the Ukrainian president took no questions as he passed a bank of reporters.

He is now meeting with Speaker Mike Johnson.

Durbin emerges from Zelenskyy meeting 'angry' and 'disappointed'

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., emerged from the meeting with Zelenskyy saying he was "angry" and "disappointed."

He told reporters he's "angry that we would consider walking away from Ukraine at this moment" in history.

Durbin expressed incredulity at members who have "grown impatient" and "don't want to talk" about U.S. aid to Ukraine anymore. "They're still giving their lives and we're impatient?"

"What does it mean in the future when the United States says, 'We’re on your side'? Does it mean anything if we walk away from Ukraine? I don’t think so," he said.

Durbin said during the meeting, some members wanted to discuss military tactics. He said that if Ukraine loses, the U.S. can count on occupation by Russia, guerrilla warfare and massive migration out of Ukraine "into Europe and beyond."

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks about why sending additional aid to Ukraine is critical.

Zelenskyy meets with senators at 9 a.m.

Frank Thorp Vproducer and off-air reporter

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Zelenskyy plans to address senators in the Mansfield Room at the Capitol just off the Senate floor starting at 9 a.m. ET.

All 100 senators are invited to the meeting, which is expected to last about an hour.

The meeting with senators comes at a critical time, with negotiations surrounding the national security supplemental package continuing, but making little progress. The Senate is scheduled to leave town at the end of the week until January.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is back in the United States appealing directly to Biden and members of Congress for additional aid for his embattled country. The Senate has been at a standoff over sending aid, and Ukraine’s counteroffensive has stalled. NBC’s Peter Alexander reports for "TODAY."

Senate negotiators doubt they’ll get a deal to unlock Ukraine aid this week

The top two senators negotiating an immigration deal cautioned yesterday that the clock is ticking and they may not be able to reach an agreement this week before the Senate is scheduled to adjourn for the rest of the year.

That means President Joe Biden’s package of aid to Ukraine and Israel could falter with it, with the debate slipping into an election year that will make it even harder to secure a bipartisan agreement.

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., who is leading the discussions for Republicans, said he still believes negotiators are “making progress” but cautioned that “every day” that goes by without a deal “makes it more complicated” to reach one.

“There’s no way to get it done this week,” Lankford said in an interview. “The question is are we staying in next week or does this actually move into early January to be able to resolve? That’s a big unknown at this point, and that depends on how the negotiation actually goes and how we’re actually working through to be able to actually get text that actually works.”

Read the full story here.

Zelenskyy and Biden to meet as Ukraine aid package stalls in Congress

Ukraine’s president will meet with President Joe Biden at the White House on Tuesday as an aid package with funds for the war-torn country stalls on Capitol Hill amid disagreements over immigration policies.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is also expected to speak with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, where there is growing GOP skepticism about providing more financial and military support for Ukraine in its war against Russia.

The White House meeting is “a chance for the president to get an update from President Zelenskyy about how things are going on the battlefront, but also to make it very clear to President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people that we’re going to continue to support them, particularly at this very difficult time,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said at a news briefing Monday.

Kirby added that Biden will also make the case “for why additional funding for Ukraine and Israel are vital to our own national security interests at this time.”

Read the full story here.