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US Senator Graham in Kyiv: 'If you want aid to Ukraine, you'd better start talking to American taxpayers'

by Kateryna Hodunova and Kateryna Denisova March 18, 2024 9:40 PM 3 min read
President Volodymyr Zelensky and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham during the meeting in Kyiv on March 18, 2024. (Ukraine's Presidential Office)
This audio is created with AI assistance

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President Volodymyr Zelensky held a meeting with U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham in Kyiv on March 18, according to the President's Office.

This is Graham's fifth visit to Ukraine since the beginning of Russia's full-scale war.

He arrived as U.S. aid to Ukraine remains stalled. While the Senate approved a $95 billion funding package on Feb. 13 that contained $60 billion in aid for Kyiv, the package still faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Graham voted repeatedly against the $60 billion package, declaring in February that he talked to former U.S. President Donald Trump, who is "dead set against this package."

Justice minister: Ukraine willing to accept loans if necessary to secure US aid
“If this sort of discussion will delay the process of the provision of financial assistance, then let’s put the discussion aside and take whatever is given,” Justice Minister Denys Maliuska said.

At a press conference in Kyiv, Graham said 70% of Republicans in the Senate understand the need for aid for Ukraine, stressing that if Russian President Vladimir Putin is not to be stopped now, there will be "a war between Russia and NATO."

Yet, he added that as political leaders, they need to address their own people, too, highlighting three topics of focus: U.S. debt, security of the border, and helping U.S. allies "with a new way of doing business."

"If you want aid to Ukraine, you'd better start talking to American taxpayers," he said.

Graham called Trump's support of further military assistance to Ukraine in the form of a loan a "step forward,"adding that the U.S. has a "broken border," and it is hard for him to talk about Ukraine aid without mentioning the border issue.

"I want the Russians not only to see the aid coming this spring, but we have come up with a model to make it more sustainable for the Ukrainian people," the senator said.

"You are going through hell. I want to help you. We have problems at home, too. I am trying to make this a win-win. I am going to the Mideast to say the same thing," he added.

Graham expressed full support for Ukraine on its path in attempts to join NATO and said that he wanted to provide Ukraine with as much weaponry as possible to achieve "a qualitative advantage on the battlefield."

"I'm hopeful that the ATACMS will be announced any moment now," Graham added, recalling the delivery of F-16s as well and expressing hope for signing a security guarantee between Ukraine and the U.S. "this year."

On March 12, the U.S. pledged a defense aid package of weapons and equipment for Ukraine worth $300 million, the first since December.

"It is critically important for us that the Congress soon completes all the necessary procedures and makes a final decision on the allocation of macro-financial assistance to Ukraine that will strengthen the Ukrainian economy and our Armed Forces," Zelensky said.

The meeting of President Volodymyr Zelensky and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham in Kyiv on March 18, 2024. (Ukraine's Presidential Office)

Zelensky briefed Graham on the situation on the battlefield and highlighted "the critical importance" of further supplies of weapons, including air defense systems and missiles.

The consumption of artillery shells since the beginning of 2024 is seven to one in Russia's favor, according to Lieutenant General Ivan Havryliuk, deputy defense minister. Munitions for some of Ukraine's air defense systems may be used up by the end of March, the Washington Post reported on March 15, citing unnamed Western officials.

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