President Volodymyr Zelensky is redoubling his diplomatic contacts with Europe in hopes of beginning to fill the void left by months of American indecision, as debate continues in Washington over providing renewed military assistance to Ukraine.

The Ukrainian leader was quick to praise the bipartisan group of US senators who approved $60 billion in assistance for their nation at a time when Ukrainian soldiers are battling shortages of weapons and ammunition, saying that “continued assistance from the United States United helps save human lives from Russian attacks.” terror.”

The reaction across the Ukrainian political spectrum was similar: they sought to express gratitude to those who support the Kiev government, but were cautious not to say anything that could in any way jeopardize the future of the debate. The relief package still must pass the Republican-led House of Representatives, where President Mike Johnson said he would ignore it.

“We hope that, as a result of constructive debate and dialogue, the bill will also receive bipartisan support and be adopted in the US House of Representatives,” said Olena Kondratyuk, Deputy Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament. “We need this support to continue fighting for our freedom and independence. “A clear message must also be sent to the aggressor country, Russia, about the unity of the democratic world and the continued leadership of the United States in providing comprehensive assistance to Ukraine.”

But Ukrainians are well aware that the bill will face strong resistance from a powerful faction of Republicans encouraged by former President Donald J. Trump to kill the bill. So Zelensky’s government is also increasingly turning to friends closer to home.

A senior Ukrainian official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal diplomatic discussions, said a victory in Ukraine by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia “would be disastrous for Europe.”

“This could lead him to expand his aggression to other countries in the region,” the official said of Putin. “Europeans understand this and it motivates them to act despite the turmoil on the other side of the Atlantic.”

Zelensky will most likely push for more military assistance in his visits to Berlin, Paris and possibly London as part of a whirlwind tour this week that will coincide with the Munich Security Conference, an annual meeting of leaders focused on international security. said the Ukrainian official. saying. The president’s office does not comment on his travel plans for security reasons and cautioned that nothing had been finalized, but Zelensky alluded to diplomatic activities in a recent speech, saying his team was preparing for the conference. in Munich.

“Ukraine will present its vision for this year,” Zelensky said. “A decisive year in many ways.”

Russia has taken the initiative along the entire front and is using its growing advantage in artillery and air power to reinforce waves of its soldiers.

The Russians have so far failed to achieve a major breakthrough across Ukrainian lines, but senior Western officials have warned that without American help, it could prove impossible for kyiv to withstand the attack and Ukraine could slowly begin to lose the war.

As Russian losses continue to mount — at least 8,800 armored fighting vehicles have been destroyed since the Kremlin launched its full-scale invasion two years ago — Moscow “has been able to keep its active inventory numbers stable,” the International Institute of Defense said. Strategic Studies. a British research group that studies global military arsenals said in a new report.

“Our assessment, therefore, is that Russia will be able to maintain its attack on Ukraine at current attrition rates for another 2 or 3 years, and perhaps even longer,” the group estimated.

The resistance of Russia’s military industrial complex in the face of extensive Western sanctions has surprised some analysts and raised concerns among countries along NATO’s eastern flank, with a growing number of Western officials warning of the need to increase urgently its own weapons production given the threat Putin poses beyond Ukraine.

Kaupo Rosin, director general of Estonia’s intelligence agency, said Tuesday, ahead of the release of the agency’s annual security assessment, that Russia was highly unlikely to carry out targeted military actions against a nation aligned with the NATO while it is deadlocked. in Ukraine. But he warned that “we see that the Russians, in their own thinking, are calculating that a military conflict with NATO is possible in the next decade.”

“The Russians are planning to increase military force along the border of the Baltic States, but also on the border with Finland,” Rosin said. “It is very likely that we will see an increase in labor; perhaps it will almost double. “We will see an increase in armed personnel carriers, tanks and artillery systems in the coming years.”

Ukraine supporters have argued that investing in the fight against Russia in Ukraine would save lives in the future, an argument Zelensky himself made two years ago in Munich, on the eve of the Russian invasion.

In that speech on February 19, 2022, he recalled how, when Germany invaded Poland at the outbreak of World War II, many asked: “Why die for Danzig?”

That question, he said that day, “became the need to die for Dunkirk and dozens of other cities in Europe and the world. “At the cost of tens of millions of lives.”

“We appreciate any help, but everyone needs to understand that these are not charitable contributions,” he said at the time. “These are not noble gestures to which Ukraine should bow. This is her contribution to the security of Europe and the world.”

When he gave that speech, the war was not certain. Putin insisted that he had no plans to invade Ukraine, and even Zelensky was unsure whether he should believe the dire warnings from Western allies.

Two years later, dozens of Ukrainian towns and cities lie in ruins. Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed or injured. And both armies continue to fight, despite hundreds of thousands of casualties.

Ukraine’s message to its European allies will probably be more or less the same this week as it was just before the war. But now, kyiv hopes, many of the illusions about Russia’s intentions have been shattered, and the danger that Russia represents to the continent has become evident in the carnage wreaked in Ukraine.

Zelensky also remained hopeful Tuesday, after the Senate vote, that the United States would continue to play its vital role as an arsenal of democracy.

“The world is waiting for American leadership to stand firm and help protect lives and preserve freedom,” he said.

Maria Varenikova contributed reporting from Kyiv.

By Sam