Zelensky Pleads With Washington for More War Aid

Welcome back to World Brief, where we’re looking at Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s trip to Washington, India’s suspension of visa services for Canadians, and a path forward for Venezuelan migrants in the United States.

Welcome back to World Brief, where we’re looking at Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s trip to Washington, India’s suspension of visa services for Canadians, and a path forward for Venezuelan migrants in the United States.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky traveled to Washington on Thursday in a desperate bid to garner further U.S. support for his country’s war against Russia. While in the capital, Zelensky visited the Pentagon, met with U.S. President Joe Biden, and held talks with members of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus at the National Archives.

This was Zelensky’s second wartime trip to the United States; the Ukrainian leader has limited his international travel to remain near his country’s front lines. His last trip to Washington was but a 10-hour stint in December 2022.

At the top of Thursday’s agenda, Zelensky sought approval for an additional $24 billion in U.S. military and humanitarian aid. The package could potentially include Army Tactical Missile Systems (known as ATACMS), which have long been on Zelensky’s wish list. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has already announced that U.S.-made Abrams tanks will arrive in Ukraine shortly. Supplying Ukraine with armaments has become a key pillar of Biden’s foreign policy, and he has touted his efforts as akin to “trying to avoid World War III.”

However, both Zelensky and Biden face an uphill battle to secure more funding. Republicans on Capitol Hill have increasingly pressured U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to deny future aid packages to Ukraine. This follows similar far-right pushback against Ukraine across the Atlantic. Last Friday, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia imposed bans on Ukrainian grain imports, shutting off a key economic lifeline for Kyiv. And on Thursday, Poland announced it would send no new arms packages to Ukraine and would only fulfill previously agreed arms deliveries.

Meanwhile, Zelensky has accused the United Nations Security Council of failing to adequately help end the war. In a special session on Wednesday, Zelensky criticized Russia’s membership in the United Nations and called on the Security Council to strip Moscow of its veto power. Russia is one of only five nations to have permanent veto authority on the council.

Hours after Zelensky touched down in Washington, Russia launched missile strikes against five Ukrainian cities. Energy facilities in Rivne, Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Kharkiv were targeted, marking the first Russian attack on Ukraine’s national power grid in six months. The Kremlin’s last major assaults on Ukrainian power infrastructure left the country in darkness for much of its grueling winter, causing heating and food crises across the country.

New Delhi vs. Ottawa. New Delhi announced Thursday that it would stop issuing visas to Canadian citizens, citing “security threats” to its embassy in Toronto. The move follows Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s accusation that India was involved in the assassination of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar while he was residing in western Canada in June. Canadians in third countries will also be impacted by India’s suspension of visa services.

Hours earlier, Ottawa announced that it was reducing the number of government personnel stationed in India after saying diplomats had received threats on social media. Both sides also expelled senior diplomats on Tuesday. “Canada’s comprehensive response must reflect the gravity of India’s role in the premeditated murder of a Sikh dissident living in Canada,” wrote two Sikh community groups in Canada.

Migrant wins and woes. Around 472,000 Venezuelan migrants received the green light on Wednesday to legally live and work in the United States for 18 months. Those who arrived after July 31 are not eligible. According to the Biden administration, the deal protects immigrants who, upon returning to Venezuela, could face unsafe conditions. However, politicians on both sides of the aisle fear that expanding immigrant protections could cost them votes as the number of migrants in major cities rises.

On the same day that hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans celebrated this path forward, Mayor Rolando Salinas Jr. declared a state of emergency in Eagle Pass, Texas, following the arrival of 2,500 migrants who crossed the border from Mexico. The mayor seeks additional support to deter illegal crossings as the small town struggles to support its growing number of newcomers.

Naming names. South Korea imposed new sanctions on Thursday, targeting 10 individuals and two corporations connected to North Korea’s nuclear program. Among those sanctioned include Pyongyang’s defense minister and chief of staff as well as a Slovakian company that has facilitated arms deals between North Korea and Russia.

According to South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, the sanctions aim to secure peace on the Korean Peninsula and prevent illegal nuclear development on the global stage. On Wednesday, Yoon expanded that threat to target Russia, saying Seoul would consider Moscow aiding North Korean nuclear advancement a “direct provocation” against South Korea.

First came the United States’ missing F-35 fighter jet. Now, Israel is joining in on the lost-and-found military fun. Israeli officials are struggling to determine how a Merkava 2 tank disappeared from a training zone in the coastal city of Haifa on Wednesday and reappeared in a junkyard hours later. Talk about one hell of a joyride.

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