Ukraine ‘will lose the war’ if US fails to approve aid, says Zelensky

Apr 8, 2024, 8:41 PM | Updated: 8:44 pm

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky looks on during a questions and answers session with Interna...

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky looks on during a questions and answers session with International media representatives in the Latvian National History Museum on Jan. 11, 2024 in Riga, Latvia. (Gints Ivuskans, AFP/Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

(Gints Ivuskans, AFP/Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

(CNN) — Ukraine “will lose the war” if the United States Congress does not approve military aid to help it resist Russia’s invasion, President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

“It’s important to specifically address the Congress: if the Congress doesn’t help Ukraine, Ukraine will lose the war,” Zelensky said Sunday during a video meeting of the Ukrainian fund-raising group UNITED24.

“If Ukraine loses this war, other countries will be attacked. This is a fact,” he said.

Zelensky’s warning, among his starkest since the war began more than two years ago, comes as Congress has for months refused to pass a package of aid for Ukraine, leaving Kyiv to battle manpower and ammunition shortages while an emboldened Russia pounds Ukraine’s cities with missiles and tests for weak spots along the front line.

The US Senate passed a $95.3 billion foreign aid bill with assistance for Ukraine and Israel in February, but House Speaker Mike Johnson has so far refused to hold a vote on passing the package for Ukraine.

Zelensky previously told CNN that “millions” could die in Ukraine’s war with Russia if US lawmakers do not approve the aid package.

When Russia launched its invasion in February 2022, it thought it would take Kyiv in days and the rest of the country in weeks. In what proved to be a disastrous miscalculation for Moscow, Ukraine repelled the initial assault on its capital and, later in 2022, reclaimed some of the territories overrun by Russia.

Frontlines mostly static

The frontlines have since been largely static, with Russia continuing to occupy around a fifth of Ukraine’s territory. Despite optimism that Ukraine could reclaim more of its occupied territories, its counteroffensive in the summer of 2023 failed to significantly pierce Russia’s defenses. Ukraine’s then-Commander in Chief conceded the war had entered a “stalemate.”

Since the start of this year, Russia – enjoying a huge advantage in manpower and technology – has attempted to seize the initiative, bombarding Ukraine’s cities with missiles and forcing Ukraine to retreat from the eastern town of Avdiivka.

Franz-Stefan Gady, an associate fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told CNN the war in Ukraine had entered a “transitional phase.”

“Russia is conducting probing attacks along the front line. It is trying to advance where it can. And it is preparing what seems to be a future offensive down the road,” he said.

While European countries have tried to replace US aid, Gady said there was “no substitute” for the support Washington can provide.

“This year, Ukraine really needs US support. There’s certain weapons systems, certain logistical support which the European countries simply cannot provide to Ukraine” such as air defense systems, he said.

Also on Sunday, Zelensky warned that “in the coming weeks Russia will be more and more insistent on dragging nuclear weapons into the debate, threatening, playing with this matter.”

In a separate post on X, he thanked UNITED24’s ambassadors for “continuing to draw US attention to the Ukrainian people’s fight for freedom and independence.”

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Ukraine ‘will lose the war’ if US fails to approve aid, says Zelensky