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As the U.S. mulls more aid to Ukraine, Zelenskyy says 'we have the same values'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy didn't mince words when he talked about the threat of Russia's war.
Kholood Eid for NPR
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy didn't mince words when he talked about the threat of Russia's war.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is requesting continued support from the U.S. amid Russia's ongoing war and growing Republican opposition.

Zelenskyy spoke to Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep in New York on Wednesday, ahead of his participation in a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

"We have the same values — freedom and democracy — and that is why we are fighting against Russia," Zelenskyy said, speaking English.

The U.S. gave Ukraine more than $112 billion in humanitarian, financial and military support in 2022. But the topic has grown increasingly divisive in the second year of the war.

Many Republican lawmakers and voters now believe such support should come to an end. An August CNNpoll found a majority of Americans say Congress should not authorize more funding for Ukraine, with divisions along party lines.

Last month, President Biden asked Congress to approve an additional $24 billion in aid, money now stuck in limbo as the government works to avoid a shutdown by the end of the month.

Most Democrats, and even many Senate Republicans, agree that U.S. support to Ukraine has important practical and strategic implications. But many House Republicans are opposed for fiscal and foreign policy reasons, as NPR has reported.

Zelenskyy stressed that Russia's war is not limited to the battlefield.

"They killed our people — woman, man. You saw it," he added. "They deported children. They are bombing civilians. It's not about only front lines. It's not simple war. ... Energy systems. Kakhovka Dam. Occupied Zaporizhzhia plant — nuclear plant. What is it? What will be next?"

Zelenskyy is no stranger to making his case to U.S. leaders — including in person.

He addressed Congress at a special joint session in December 2022, his first visit to the U.S. since the war broke out. He also delivered an impassioned plea via video in March, weeks after Russia launched its full-fledged invasion.

Zelenskyy plans to travel to Washington, D.C. on Thursday to meet with Biden and members of Congress.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.
Ally Schweitzer (she/her) is an editor with NPR's Morning Edition. She joined the show in October 2022 after eight years at WAMU, the NPR affiliate in Washington.