Rejected on Hill, Zelenskyy Eyes Wall Street

Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy | Image by Oleh Dubyna/Shutterstock

Facing strong and increasing resistance from Washington lawmakers to his petition for more of the American taxpayers’ money, Volodymyr Zelenskyy is turning to private bankers for the financial support he says Ukraine desperately needs.

The Ukrainian president visited lawmakers on Capitol Hill for the second time in less than a year. However, he did not get the warm welcome that accompanied his first trip, with many Republicans staunchly against sending any more funds to the Ukrainian cause, as reported by The Guardian.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has so far rejected authorizing $24 billion of additional aid to Ukraine that the Biden administration wanted in a stopgap bill meant to avert a shutdown by funding the government until October 31, per The Guardian.

There is broad support to continue funding Ukraine in its war with Russia in the U.S. Senate, but right-wing Republicans have more sway in the House. “America First” legislators like Lance Gooden (R-TX) have made it clear they want to wind down America’s involvement in the conflict, as reported by The Dallas Express.

If the message that House Republicans would not let the lower chamber be a rubber stamp on more money for Ukraine was not clear, McCarthy dismissed Zelenskyy’s request to make his case to a joint session of Congress as he did on his previous visit, per Axios.

Earlier in the week, when asked by ABC News about further funding for Ukraine, McCarthy had this to say: “Is Zelenskyy elected to Congress? Is he our president? I don’t think I have to commit anything and I think I have questions for him.”

“Zelenskyy asked for a joint session, we just didn’t have time. He’s already given a joint session,” McCarthy told reporters Thursday.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), reacting to the House roadblock, appealed to Republicans’ sense of hospitality.

“I cannot think of a worse welcome for Zelenskyy,” he remarked.

Now, the Ukrainian president, sensing the change in the mood on Capitol Hill, has shifted some of his hopes for aid to the private finance sector.

Before arriving in Washington, Zelenskyy wrapped up his New York visit where he addressed the United Nations Security Council by hosting a meeting with some of the country’s most powerful financiers. The list included massive investment firm BlackRock CEO Larry Fink and his vice chairman Philipp Hildebrand, who, according to Fox Business, have been helping Zelenskyy source private funds for Ukraine.

The Ukrainian government had already engaged JPMorgan to create a fund for the country seeded with $20 billion to $30 billion private capital, per Fox Business. According to the same report, the financiers and Zelenskyy have discussed forming a bank for Ukraine’s development that would be run by the Wall Street firms.

Other Wall Street leaders in attendance included former New York City mayor and Bloomberg LP founder Michael Bloomberg, hedge fund Pershing Square Capital head William Ackman, Citadel investment company’s Ken Griffin, Blackstone private equity firm president Jonathan Gray, and Google founder and philanthropist Eric Schmidt, per Fox Business.

The meeting also included other wealthy and influential guests, including New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Henry Kissinger.

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