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Biden apologizes to Zelensky

The US leader has lamented delays in sending American money to Ukraine

US President Joe Biden has publicly apologized to Vladimir Zelensky for “weeks” of uncertainty in Kiev about getting billions in aid from American taxpayers.

The White House requested $61 billion for Ukraine as part of a national security funding bill in October, but it did not get approved by Congress until late April. Ukraine has blamed the lack of US funding for a string of defeats along the battlefield.

“I apologize for those weeks of not knowing what’s going to happen in terms of funding,” Biden told Zelensky as they met in France on Friday. The US president criticized “some of our very conservative members” of Congress for holding up the bill.

“We’re not gonna walk away from you,” Biden reassured Zelensky. “We’re still in. Completely. Thoroughly.”

Washington has announced another $225 million package of military aid to Kiev, including ammunition for artillery and HIMARS rocket launchers. Biden told Zelensky the aid was “to help you reconstruct the electric grid,” however. Russian air and missile strikes have severely degraded Ukraine’s power-generating capacity in recent weeks.

Zelensky brought up the 80th anniversary of the Anglo-American landings in Normandy to appeal for the same kind of aid to Kiev.

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“It’s very important that in this unity, United States of America, all American people stay with Ukraine like it was during World War II,” Zelensky said. “How the United States helped to save human lives, to save Europe. And we count on your continuing support in standing with us shoulder to shoulder.”

Zelensky, whose mandate expired last month, was invited to France for the ceremonies marking the Allied landing in WWII. Modern Ukraine celebrates collaborators with Nazi Germany – including the 14th Waffen-Grenadier SS Division ‘Galizien’ – as national heroes. 

In his speech at the American memorial in Normandy on Thursday, Biden drew parallels between the D-Day landings and the support of the US and its allies to Ukraine on behalf of “democracy,” insinuating a comparison between Russia and the Third Reich. 

France also invited German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to the ceremonies, but no one from Russia, even though the Soviet Union did the lion’s share of fighting against Nazi Germany during WWII. 

 

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