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Zelensky on Mike Johnson: ‘I Have to Trust’ Him, ‘but We’ll See’

CNN
CNN

Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky expressed cautious optimism about House Speaker Mike Johnson—who has continued to hold up congressional aid to Ukraine at a critical time—telling CNN that he has to trust the Louisiana Republican, “but we’ll see.”

Appearing Monday night on The Source, Zelensky recalled a prior conversation with Johnson, whose comments, according to the Ukrainian leader, were apparently quite supportive.

“He said that he will do everything to support Ukraine, and he is on our side, and he understands how heroic our people [are]—our soldiers, and civilians, and the children,” Zelensky said. “He has said prayers with us, and he said that he will do it.”

“I can’t push the speaker,” Zelensky added, a few weeks after Johnson opposed the Senate’s $95 billion foreign aid package, which includes $60 billion for Ukraine. Johnson had also come out against an earlier version of that bill, claiming it didn’t do enough for the U.S.-Mexico border.

“This is his decision, but I think he understands all the challenges that we have,” Zelensky said.

The Senate passed the foreign aid package on Feb. 12 after some filibustering by its Republican opponents. President Joe Biden is expected to meet Tuesday with Johnson and three congressional leaders who support the legislation: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins asked Zelensky if he trusted Johnson.

“I have to trust. I have to trust,” he said. “But we will see.”

Zelensky added that Russian President Vladimir Putin is looking to exploit friction between the U.S. and Ukraine on the topic of aid, and would use reports about the potential cessation of funding to boost his troops’ morale, which Zelensky said is “very low.”

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday stressed the need for Johnson to act.

“There is a strong bipartisan majority in the House standing ready to pass this bill if it comes to the floor,” he said on CNN’s State of the Union, “and that decision rests on the shoulders of one person, and history is watching whether Speaker Johnson will put that bill on the floor.”

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