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Zelenskiy, top US officials to make case for Ukraine funding

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelenskiy and top aides to U.S. President Joe Biden will make their case to U.S. senators on Tuesday about why a fresh infusion of military assistance is needed to help Ukraine repel Russian invaders.

U.S. officials say the United States will spend all it has available for Ukraine by the end of the year, a dire prediction that comes as Kyiv has struggled to make major advances in its 2023 counteroffensive against Russia.

Biden's administration in October asked Congress for nearly $106 billion to pay for ambitious plans for Ukraine, Israel and U.S. border security, but Republicans who control the House with a slim majority rejected the package.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a close Biden ally, announced on Monday night that the administration has invited Zelenskiy to address senators via secure video as part of a classified briefing on Tuesday "so we can hear directly from him precisely what's at stake in this vote."

In addition, a variety of top Biden officials, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, are expected to brief the senators on Tuesday.

Schumer also started the process of advancing a Ukraine-Israel emergency aid bill on the Senate floor.

"America's national security is on the line around the world" with the fate of Ukraine aid hanging in the balance, Schumer said in a Senate speech. "Autocrats, dictators waging war against democracy, against our values, against our way of life. That's why passing this supplemental is so important. It could determine the trajectory of democracy for years to come."

Zelenskiy told Reuters in a November interview that despite the slow going, Ukraine would try to deliver battlefield results by the end of the year and that he remained sure Kyiv would eventually have success in the war despite difficulties at the front.

But the stalled drive to get U.S. assistance has alarmed the Biden White House, which fears a failure to help Ukraine further would increase the likelihood of Russian victories.

(Writing by Steve Holland. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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