Zelenskyy Confident Of Continuation Of Promised US Support


(RFE/RL) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he believes additional military aid from the United States to fend off Russia’s full-scale invasion will arrive soon despite indications that a massive spending bill for Ukraine won’t pass the U.S. Congress by the end of the year.

Zelenskiy announced on December 19 at a year-end news conference in Kyiv that an unspecified number of U.S.-provided air defense systems are on the way and said European allies also continue to provide help, but he stressed that Ukraine needs immediate assistance to continue the fight.

“We need help from the United States right now. We need assistance from the European Union,” Zelenskiy said. “I am happy that our partners listened to us and heard us. I think the assistance will come to Ukraine very soon.”

Citing the expected delivery of national advanced antiaircraft missile systems (NASAMS), Zelenskiy said he is sure that the United States will provide everything promised because Washington understands that all its financial support goes toward Ukraine’s need to stand against the invasion.

“I am sure that the United States will not betray us and we will get everything that was promised,” he said, adding that Ukraine has established “special ties” with its partners in Europe — both in the EU and other European nations — and they “continue to support us” with funding and military aid.

The news conference came as the White House said it planned more military aid this month, while the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) approved a $4.3 billion capital increase to boost funding for Ukraine.

Zelenskiy can count on at least one additional package of U.S. military aid for Ukraine before the end of the year, but the larger package of $100 billion for Ukraine, Israel, and border security has stalled in Congress as President Joe Biden tries to persuade lawmakers — mainly Republicans — to overcome reluctance to authorize further aid in the form of an emergency funding request.

Zelenskiy’s news conference came after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared at a meeting with top military leaders that Moscow’s troops were “holding the initiative” in Ukraine.

“We are effectively doing what we think is needed, doing what we want,” Putin said. “Where our commanders consider it necessary to stick to active defenses they are doing so, and we are improving our positions where it’s needed.”

The Russian leader praised Russia’s troops for beating back Ukrainian attacks during a counteroffensive launched in June, saying Kyiv had “wasted its reserves while trying to show at least some results of its so-called counteroffensive to its masters.”

Zelenskiy used the news conference to thank the Ukrainian armed forces and the country’s partners and supporters for their contributions but said nobody knows when the war will end.

He said the topic of mobilization was “very sensitive,” adding that he asked for more information after the military wanted 450,000 to 500,000 people to be mobilized.

He has not yet seen any information about demobilization, he said, saying the focus should be on giving troops who have been fighting a break.

Zelenskiy’s news conference came as his once sky-high approval rating among Ukrainians dropped significantly amid reports of differences with the Ukrainian military’s commander in chief, General Valeriy Zaluzhniy, and a perceived lack of progress on the battlefield.

He praised the Ukrainian military’s efforts, saying it scored “a big victory” on the Black Sea with successful strikes on Russian warships and the securing of maritime trading routes.

“Everyone can appreciate that the Russian fleet was deprived of their almost total dominance in the Ukrainian Black Sea,” Zelenskiy said, adding that Moscow had tried to impose controls on Ukraine’s exports.

On the question of possible changes in the government, Zelenskiy said he would be “unable to work” if he got rid of the team of six or seven people around him. He acknowledged that there are some lawmakers who “do not focus on society’s interests” but said the majority of them “work professionally.”

Speaking specifically about Zaluzhniy, he said he has his own duties as commander in chief and he plans to work with him but said he expects concrete results on the battlefield.

He declined to further discuss the relationship, saying, “Why should we help enemies by talking about it?”

Zelenskiy, however, was willing to speak about proposals to increase Ukraine’s own arms production, saying the country will produce 1 million drones next year.

Since the start of the war, drone production in Ukraine has shot up as their role on the battlefield increases for both sides.


RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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