Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky capped his visit to Washington on Wednesday with an impassioned speech before a joint session of the US Congress.
“Against every possibility, doom and gloom scenario,” he said, “Ukraine did not fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking.”
Speaking in English, Zelensky thanked the United States for its military equipment and financial support.
“Your money is not charity,” he assured Congress. “What we deal with in the most responsible way is investing in global security and democracy.”
Despite Russia’s superiority in artillery, ammunition, missiles and aircraft, “Russia’s defenses are maintained,” Zelensky said.
“Ukraine holds the front lines and will never surrender,” Zelensky said.
He concluded by presenting parliament with a battle flag given to him by Ukrainian defenders in Bakhmut, a city in eastern Ukraine where his troops have been engaged in heavy fighting for months. In return, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi gifted him with a US flag that was flying over the US Capitol on Wednesday.
Earlier Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden welcomed Zelensky to the White House on his first visit outside of Ukraine since Russia began invading Ukraine in February.
Biden said Americans “stand proudly” with Ukrainians.
“Democrats and Republicans will work with our allies in Europe, Japan and elsewhere to ensure they receive the financial, humanitarian and security assistance they need,” he added, adding that Russia’s Vladimir Putin calls ‘brutal attack on Ukraine’s right to exist as a state’
Zelensky thanked Biden for his bipartisan support “from my heart, from the heart of the Ukrainian people, from the heart of all Ukrainians.”
“Thank you, from our just normal people to your normal people, Americans,” he said.
Zelensky also presented Biden with the Military Merit Cross, once owned by a Ukrainian soldier who was the captain of the U.S.-provided High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) battery. Biden, who received the medal, said it was “undeserved, but very appreciative.”
The two later held a joint press conference, at which Biden reaffirmed his support for the United States to Zelensky.
“We will give Ukraine what it needs to defend itself, be successful, and be successful on the battlefield,” Biden said, adding, “As long as Ukraine is there, we will be with Ukraine.”
Asked why Ukraine is not providing all the weapons capabilities it is seeking, Mr. Biden said the United States is providing Ukraine with what it needs to defend itself and succeed on the battlefield.
“The idea of giving Ukraine material that is fundamentally different from what is already being done in Ukraine could dismantle NATO and dismantle the European Union and the rest of the world,” he said.
Mr Biden said he spent “hundreds of hours” urging European allies to continue to support Ukraine.
“They totally understand that, but they are not going to war with Russia. They don’t want World War III,” he said.
Zelensky was asked if there is a way to end war, a “just peace”.
President Zelensky said, “For me as president, peace is not the only compromise when it comes to the sovereignty, freedom and territorial integrity of my country. It is the payback for all the damage inflicted by Russia’s aggression.”
The visit comes at a time when US lawmakers are discussing an additional $45 billion in emergency aid to Ukraine, bringing the total US wartime aid to over $100 billion.
patriot missile defense
When Zelensky landed on the US mainland, the US Department of Defense announced $1.85 billion in additional security assistance to Ukraine. This includes Patriot air defense batteries and ammunition, additional ammunition for HIMARS, missiles, artillery and other ammunition.
“This $1 billion reduction will allow Ukraine to expand its air defense and precision strike capabilities, acquire additional ammunition and critical equipment, and allow Ukraine to defend itself on the battlefield,” said Secretary of State Antony Brinken in a statement. We are using it very effectively to do that.”
Blinken said the United States had announced an additional $850 million in security assistance, bringing the total to $21.9 billion, an unprecedented amount since he took office.
President Zelensky has repeatedly urged the United States and others to provide air defense systems to help Ukraine cope with missile and drone attacks by Russian forces that have hit cities and destroyed infrastructure across Ukraine.
A senior government official said the Ukrainian military will be trained in a third country on how to use the Patriot system and the process “will take some time.”
“Ukrainian soldiers are the quickest to learn new technology I’ve ever seen. I imagine they’ll do it somewhere in Germany or Poland.
Designed to protect a limited area, the Patriot is “the best in the world for that purpose,” said Hodges, “and will shoot down cruise missiles and advanced aircraft,” but “is not a silver bullet.” ”.
Some information for this report was provided by Agence France-Presse and Reuters.
Iuliia Iarmolenko contributed to this report.