NewsZelenskyy unexpectedly cancels his speech: "Something happened last minute"

Zelenskyy unexpectedly cancels his speech: "Something happened last minute"

Volodymyr Zelensky
Volodymyr Zelensky
Images source: © GETTY | NurPhoto
ed. PAB

4:02 PM EST, December 6, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy unexpectedly canceled his planned remote address to a closed Senate meeting in the US, scheduled to discuss support for Ukraine, among other issues. Republican Senators exited the meeting after discovering that the Democrats were not willing to concede on strengthening the US's southern border simultaneously.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy was scheduled to deliver a remote speech to a United States Senate session on Tuesday. "Unexpectedly, he canceled the briefing with senators, during which he was expected to request further military funding to combat the Russian invasion," reports AFP.

"Something happened at the last minute," Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told journalists. The reason behind Zelenskyy's decision to not give his speech remains unknown. Meanwhile, the issue of American support for Ukraine is still hanging in the balance.

Talks come to a standstill

In a Tuesday press conference, the Democratic leader in the Senate declared his intent to present a bill this week. The bill proposes to allocate over $106 billion for various purposes, including assistance for Ukraine ($61.4 billion), Israel, Indo-Pacific countries, and enhancing border protection. The vote could potentially take place as early as Wednesday.

The senator conceded that the negotiations have hit a roadblock due to the stance of the Republicans, including House Speaker Mike Johnson. They demand a provision tightening asylum policy and resuming border wall construction, in exchange for support for transferring additional funds to Ukraine.

While Schumer finds this proposal unacceptable, he has committed to continuing the negotiations.

Senators depart the meeting

As the Senate meeting commenced on Tuesday, it quickly became clear that the proposal to fortify the southern US border was not part of the bill. In response, some Republican senators began to leave the room. "People got up and left because it’s a waste of time," NBC News quotes Senator Kevin Cramer as telling reporters.

"We want to help Ukraine and Israel, but we need the Democrats to acknowledge that an agreement means we will stop the open border," said Republican Senator Mitt Romney.

As it stands, the bill runs a considerable risk of not passing because it requires support from both Democrats and some Republicans to garner the 60 votes needed in the 100-member Senate.

A "huge risk" for Ukraine

According to the head of the President of Ukraine's office visiting the United States, the delay of the US decision poses a "huge risk" for Ukraine. "The continuation of the territory's liberation and huge risks for losing the war," will be impossible, warned Andrij Yermak.

On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stated that the United States would be "responsible for Ukraine's failure" if Congress does not approve the Biden administration's latest funding aid request for the country, as reported by Reuters.

On Monday, the White House gave a warning that funds designated for aid to Ukraine are set to be depleted by the year's end.

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