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Mr. Zelensky Goes to Washington

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 19: President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky addresses world leaders during the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on September 19, 2023 in New York City. Dignitaries and their delegations from across the globe have descended on New York for the annual event. This year marks the 78th session of the General Debate at the UN Headquarters and will focus on the crisis of global warming. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
The conventional wisdom in Washington is that Americans are growing weary of spending more and more money on what is, essentially, Ukraine’s war of independence, but the polling paints a more complex picture. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Julia Ioffe
September 19, 2023

After delivering an impassioned speech at the U.N. General Assembly, Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky heads to Washington this week, just as the city ties itself in knots ahead of an increasingly likely government shutdown. During his last visit, in December, Zelensky delivered a moving address before a joint session of Congress. This time, there will be no prime-time tear-jerkers, just closed-door meetings on the House and Senate sides, and a few more down the street, at the White House, as well as with Lloyd Austin and Chairman Mark Milley. (Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska will speak at Georgetown on Thursday afternoon.) 

It is on the Hill, though, that Zelensky will run face-first into the increasingly grim politics of getting more U.S. funding for Ukraine. The conventional wisdom in Washington is that Americans are growing weary of spending more and more money on what is, essentially, Ukraine’s war of independence, but the polling paints a more complex picture. Last month, a CNN poll suggested that a majority of Americans do not want Congress to authorize more aid and about half said the U.S. was doing too much.