Senators want to hear a plan from Zelenskyy for victory in Ukraine after a closed-door briefing on the conflict.

Senators want to hear a plan from Zelenskyy for victory in Ukraine after a closed-door briefing on the conflict.

Senators emerged from a closed-door briefing with senior administration officials on the war in Ukraine anxious to hear from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about how he plans to win the conflict, amid headwinds from Congress over providing additional aid.

The classified briefing came before Zelenskyy is slated to meet with senators in the Old Senate Chamber on Thursday morning. Democrats said the session underscored the need for immediate continued assistance to Ukraine.

“It is very clear that if we were to have a government shutdown or to pass a [continuing resolution] with no Ukraine aid, the effect on Ukraine would be very quick and devastating,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “We cannot let Putin win. Without aid, Ukraine could run the very strong risk of being defeated.”

Republican senators — skeptics and backers of Ukraine aid alike — said they wanted to hear from Zelenskyy a plan for victory, an update on the activities of European allies in support of the country and how he plans to safeguard additional U.S. aid from fraud and abuse. None thought the briefing itself fundamentally changed the views of the GOP ahead of the briefing.

“It just depends on the person,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) told POLITICO. “I support it because I think it’s important for our national security, but other people have other ideas.”

Opponents of additional aid were unbowed following the briefing. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said it did not alter his opposition to more assistance and said of the briefing: “All of it was depressing.”

“Take out Ukraine — insert Iraq or insert Afghanistan — and you would get exactly what George W. Bush said for years — and other people after him — about why we have to stay indefinitely in those countries and keep spending money indefinitely,” he said. “It’s the same recycled arguments.”

Briefers for the session included Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, CIA Director Bill Burns, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Gen. Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), who returned from a second visit to Ukraine on Tuesday evening, said it would be “incredibly short sighted and naïve” for Republicans to refuse additional funds for Ukraine in its war with Russia.

“That would be the opening that Putin is looking for,” he told reporters Wednesday.

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