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Graham meets with Zelensky in Ukraine

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday as further funding for the war-torn country remains in limbo amid divisions in Congress.

Zelensky hosted Graham in Kyiv, where the two discussed aid for Ukraine, the Ukrainian army’s needs and the Eastern European nation’s eventual integration into NATO, the Ukrainian leader wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Graham’s visit comes just weeks after he voted against a $95 billion defense and foreign aid package in the Senate. The bill included $60 billion for Ukraine, including $19.85 billion to restock U.S. military weapons provided from the Pentagon’s inventory and $13.8 billion to allow Ukraine to buy weapons and munitions from U.S. industry.

The South Carolina Republican is one of the most outspoken GOP advocates for supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russia, which surprised and frustrated lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who believed he would help muster up GOP support for the bill.

Defending his vote last month, Graham pointed to his concerns about the border.

Zelensky reiterated his plea to the U.S. on Monday to continue sending aid in support of Ukraine.

“It is critical that our partners continue to provide military and technical assistance, such as air defense systems and missiles,” Zelensky wrote on X, adding later, “The continued support of Ukraine by international partners, particularly the United States, is now more important than ever in implementing plans to de-occupy our territories and protect our people.”

In a video of Zelensky’s remarks, the president told Graham he is thankful for Congress and the Biden administration’s support over the past two years, and he asked the lawmaker what he thinks about future support for the nation.

In the short clip of the beginning of the meeting, Graham offered a stark prediction for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Putin will go down in history the way all people like Putin go down in history, it’s just a matter of time,” he said.

In a statement later shared with The Hill, Graham said he had a “productive visit” with Zelensky about the state and future of the war. He said he is calling on the Biden administration to send longer-range artillery, accelerate F-16 training for Ukrainians and designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism.

Increasing division among lawmakers has stalled aid for the Eastern European nation. Congress has not passed a funding bill for Ukraine since the end of 2022, when a Democratic majority passed its fourth aid package for the country.

The $95 billion supplemental still passed in the upper chamber in a 70-29 vote after 22 Republicans joined the majority of Senate Democrats to pass the package.

The bill was sent to the House, where Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) insisted on not bringing it to the floor as it lacks the border security measures insisted upon by House GOP members.

Johnson is instead offering up an alternative plan and told Republican senators last week he plans to send them legislation that includes new military funding for Kyiv after the House considers a separate spending package to prevent a government shutdown this Friday.

He noted that this will look significantly different from the Senate’s $95 billion package and floated the idea of making the House’s foreign aid package a loan or lend-lease program to relieve some of the burden on U.S. taxpayers.

Graham expressed his support for turning foreign aid into a loan during Monday’s meeting.

During my meeting with President Zelensky, I informed him that given the crisis at the United States’ southern border and our overwhelming debt, President Trump’s idea of turning aid from the United States into a no-interest, waivable loan is the most likely path forward. This is not only true for aid for Ukraine, but for other countries across the board. I reiterated that the House’s Ukraine aid legislation must include some American border security provisions,” he wrote.

The plan, however, has raised several questions about exactly how Johnson intends to get both funding for Kyiv and the stricter border security measures into one package and how he will shore up Democratic support if he strays too far from the Senate-passed foreign aid package.

Updated at 5:08 p.m.

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