(Photo credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky blamed “terrorist” Iran for allegedly assisting Russia and urged US leaders to “act” during a speech at the US Capitol building on 21 December.
“Russia found an ally in this genocidal policy — Iran,” Zelensky told a joint-session of the US Congress on Wednesday night. “Iranian deadly drones sent to Russia in the hundreds became a threat to our critical infrastructure. That is how one terrorist has found the other.”
Over the past several months, western and Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of using Iranian kamikaze drones to target vital infrastructure in the war-torn country.
While Iran maintains no military drones have been delivered to Russia since the start of the war, the Kremlin claims its army has not used Iranian drones in Ukraine.
Earlier this year, a planned meeting between Iranian and Ukrainian officials to review evidence of Russia’s alleged use of Iranian drones was scrapped under US pressure.
“It is just a matter of time when they will strike against your other allies if we do not stop them now,” Zelensky warned during his address to a room full of exuberant US lawmakers, whom he solicited to continue funding the war in his country.
“Your money is not charity,” the Ukrainian president asserted, before adding that the tens of billions already approved in US military aid are “an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.”
During a press conference earlier in the day, Zelensky called on lawmakers to pass a $1.7 trillion omnibus funding bill, which would allocate an additional $45 billion in aid for Ukraine, eight billion more than what President Joe Biden was reportedly asking for to finish out the year.
If it passes, the US will have provided Ukraine with over $100 billion for the year. This includes humanitarian and economic aid on top of the steady flow of weapons into the country.
On the other hand, Russia’s projected defense budget for 2023 is $84 billion. However, during a meeting with senior military officials on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said there were no financial limits on what the government would provide for the army.
Washington’s latest aid package for Ukraine is the fourth since the war started. The first came after Russia’s invasion in March for $13.6 billion, the second was $40 billion in May, and the third was $12.3 billion in September.
The White House is also about to approve the world’s highest ever annual defense budget, while the Pentagon is working to expedite arms deliveries to its allies across the globe, protecting the bottom lines of US weapon manufacturers.