Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credit: DREW ANGERER / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP 15:37 p.m. on December 12, 2023

On the 656th day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is multiplying meetings in Congress and the White House to prevent the United States from cutting off supplies to his war-torn country. For its part, Russia claims to be making significant progress in southern Ukraine.


It's the last-ditch plea: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is stepping up meetings on Tuesday, in Congress and at the White House, to prevent Washington from cutting off supplies to his war-torn country. Time is of the essence. Russia on Tuesday morning gave a new illustration of the intensification of its pressure on the front, claiming "significant" advances in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia. According to the Ukrainian army, Moscow is stepping up attacks on the entire front. Vladimir Putin has been proud in recent days of the progress of his men, while Kiev's major summer offensive has failed.

For the third time in a year, Volodymyr Zelensky arrived at the US Congress on Tuesday, this time the scene of very tense negotiations over additional aid for Kiev. "This will be his most important visit," Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said. The U.S. legislature has committed more than $110 billion since the start of the Russian invasion in February 2022, but stumbled last week over the new package requested by President Joe Biden -- some $61 billion.

Key information:

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is stepping up meetings in Congress and the White House on Tuesday to prevent Washington from cutting off supplies to his war-torn country.
  • The Russian army has made "significant" advances in the Zaporizhzhia region of partially occupied southern Ukraine.

'Putin and his clique'

Democrats are in favor of new funds. Republicans are not totally opposed to it, but are demanding major changes to U.S. immigration policy in return. On this point, discussions are stalling. This is enough to frustrate the Ukrainian president. "If there's anyone who rejoices in the never-ending negotiations on Capitol Hill, it's Putin and his clique of unhinged people," Zelensky said Monday. The Kremlin said on Tuesday that any new US aid was doomed to be a "fiasco" because the money injected so far has not allowed Ukraine to "succeed on the battlefield".

>> ALSO READ – Zelensky in the United States: a crucial visit for Ukraine, seeking financial support

Vladimir Putin had welcomed the fact that the Ukrainian army was "running out" of weapons, according to a video released on Sunday and filmed at a ceremony on Friday. "When you don't have your own base, your own ideology, your own (defence) industry, your own money, nothing of your own, you don't have a future," he said of Ukraine, before adding "we have all that". Russia, which has turned its economy towards the war effort, is pushing ever harder in eastern and southern Ukraine. The Russian army has made "significant" advances in Ukraine's partially occupied Zaporizhzhia region, Moscow-installed governor Yevgeny Balitsky said on Tuesday.

The Russians also launched a "massive offensive" two days ago around Avdiivka and Mariinka, hotspots on the eastern front, said Oleksandr Tarnavsky, Ukrainian commander of the area, assuring that his troops were "firmly holding" their positions. AFP is unable to verify these claims by the belligerents. Moscow is also continuing its daily strikes across Ukraine. On Tuesday, shelling killed a 73-year-old man in the northeastern city of Kupiansk, according to local authorities. Meanwhile, Russia is suspected of being behind a "powerful" hack that paralyzed Ukraine's leading mobile operator Kyivstar, according to Ukraine's security services. Kyiv regularly claims to be targeted by Russian cyberattacks.

'Short of money'

Volodymyr Zelensky plans to reiterate to US senators meeting at 09:00 am (14 GMT) that US help is essential to stop Vladimir Putin. He is then scheduled to meet with House Speaker Mike Johnson, a particularly important exchange. Congress theoretically has only until Friday -- when the House recess begins -- to reach an agreement on additional funds. The White House has already warned that it will "run out of money" by the end of the year if nothing is done.

>> ALSO READ – War in Ukraine: Russian army claims 'significant' advance in the south of the country

Ukraine fears that a long-term blockade in the United States could also affect European military aid to Kyiv, with the EU also debating what to do with its assistance. Poland's new prime minister, Donald Tusk, has nevertheless called on the world to "fully mobilise" Ukraine, an encouraging sign after a period of tensions with the country's previous government. President Biden, aware that the sense of urgency has waned in Washington, had asked Congress to couple its request for aid for Ukraine with a request for about $14 billion for Israel, an ally of the United States at war with Hamas. So far, to no avail. The Democratic leader will receive his Ukrainian counterpart in the early afternoon at the White House, before a joint press conference.