President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is currently in the United States for his first foreign visit since the Russians invaded Ukraine in February of this year. The Ukrainian leader received a rousing welcome as he met President Biden at the White House and later with the country’s legislators at the Capitol.
Zelensky was, no doubt, in the US to thank the government and people for all they have done for the people of Ukraine and to seek more monetary and arms donations for the warring nation. President Biden was quick to grant some of the requests of the Ukrainian president when he announced a new security package for Ukraine and the provision of powerful ammunition.
“Today, I’m announcing the next tranche of our security assistance to Ukraine: a $1.85 billion package of security assistance that includes both direct transfers of equipment that Ukraine needs, as well as contracts to supply ammunition Ukraine will need in the months ahead for its artillery, its tanks, and its rocket launchers,” Biden said at the White House with President Zelenskyy by his side.
“Critically, in addition to these new capabilities like precision aerial munitions, the package will include a Patriot missile battery, on which we’ll train Ukrainian forces to operate as part of the ongoing effort to help bolster Ukraine’s air defence,” Biden added.
President Zelensky appreciated President Biden for his government’s efforts in trying to help Ukraine defend itself.
“I am grateful to President Biden for his personal efforts, his steps that unite the partners in Global South,” Zelensky said while expressing appreciation for the United State’s bicameral legislature with the hopes that parliament would approve the donation.
Zelenskyy heads to Congress
President Zelensky, after departing the White House, headed to Congress to seek its continuous financial and military support. President Zelensky, dressed in his usual casual clothing, praised the people of the United States for their support in the almost one-year war before explaining the situation in Ukraine.
“The occupiers have a significant advantage in artillery,” Zelensky said. “They have an advantage in ammunition. They have much more missiles and planes than we ever had. It’s true, but our defence forces stand. And we all are proud of them.”
Zelensky added that the “Russians tactic is primitive” as Moscow has sent thugs and convicts to the frontline.
“They threw everything against us, similar to the other tyranny, which is in the Battle of the Bulge. Threw everything it had against the free world, just like the brave American soldiers which held their lines and fought back Hitler’s forces during the Christmas of 1944. Brave Ukrainian soldiers are doing the same to Putin’s forces this Christmas,” Zelensky added.
Zelensky vowed never to surrender but added that the Ukrainians cannot do it without the support of the United States and other countries.
“Ukraine holds its lines and will never surrender … and your support is crucial, not just to stand in such fight but to get to the turning point to win on the battlefield,” Zelensky continued.
The plea for more aid
When the news of Zelensky’s visit to the United States broke out, many could guess what would happen when he arrives. He will ask for more support. While delivering his touching speech in Congress, he asked members to approve the provision of more artilleries to withstand the brutal Russian forces.
“We have artillery, yes. Thank you. We have it. Is it enough? Honestly, not really. To ensure Bakhmut is not just a stronghold that holds back the Russian Army, but for the Russian Army to completely pull out, more cannons and shells are needed,” Zelensky pleaded. “If your Patriots stop the Russian terror against our cities, it will let Ukrainian patriots work to the full to defend our freedom.”
While explaining why the Ukrainians needed more arms, Zelensky said that Iran’s support for Russia raised new concerns in Ukraine, and there was a need to boost Ukraine’s defence to withstand the enemy.
“More than that, Russia found an ally in this genocidal policy: Iran. Iranian deadly drones sent to Russia in hundreds became a threat to our critical infrastructure,” Zelensky said emotionally. “That is how one terrorist has found the other.”
“I believe there should be no taboos between us in our alliance. Ukraine never asked the American soldiers to fight on our land instead of us. I assure you that Ukrainian soldiers can perfectly operate American tanks and planes themselves,” Zelensky said.
“Your Money is not charity”
President Zelensky, in a convincing tone, said Ukraine needed more than firearms but also more money and financial packages.
“Financial assistance is also critically important,” Zelensky said while thanking the members of congress for the packages they approved initially.
“Your money is not charity,” the Ukrainian president continued. “It’s an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.”
Zelensky’s visit to Congress is important as Republicans will soon gain the majority following the outcome of the mid-term elections. With growing concerns about the unending financial assistance sent to Ukraine, Zelensky’s speech could be a way of telling the Republicans in the house to approve the sending of funds to the warring nation. Analysts of his speech said he did a great job in doing so.
The calls for more sanctions
President Zelensky will not end his speech without calling for more sanctions against the Kremlin. He said the power to sanction Russia is in the hands of Congress and that a country that started an unprovoked war should not go unpunished.
“You can strengthen sanctions to make Russia feel how ruinous its aggression truly is,” the 44-year-old said. “Let the terrorist state be held responsible for its terror and aggression and compensate all losses done by this war.”
Since the war started, the Russian Federation has been sanctioned by most Western countries, including the United States. Russian oligarchs and associates of the Russian president had forfeited their properties in most countries due to these sanctions. However, President Zelensky still insists that the sanctions are never enough, just as the aids and donations are not enough.
At the end of the touching speech, President Zelensky presented a signed Ukrainian flag to Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“When I was in Bakhmut yesterday, our heroes gave me the flag, the battle flag, the flag of those who defend Ukraine, Europe and the world at the cost of their lives. They asked me to bring this flag to you, to the U.S. Congress, to members of the House of Representatives and to senators whose decisions can save millions of people,” the comedian turn wartime president said before presenting the flag to the number 2 and number 3 citizens of the United States.
“Let this flag stay with you, ladies and gentlemen. This flag is a symbol of our victory in this war,” he added.
Russia unimpressed by Zelensky’s visit
The Russian ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, had criticised Zelensky’s visit to the United States, describing it as a sign that neither the US nor Ukraine are ready for peace talks, describing the president’s visit as a “Hollywood-style trip.”
Antonov said Biden’s statements suggesting that the US has no intention of confronting Russia are empty words and that Russia was fighting a proxy war with the United States.
“What was essentially announced to applauses and sarcastic smirks, was the need to continue the ‘proxy war’ against our country till a full victory over us,” Antonov said.
He insisted that the US support for Ukraine would lead to an escalation of the conflict and condemned Biden’s $1.8 billion assistance to Ukraine.
“The provocative actions by the US are steadily leading to an escalation, the consequences of which cannot even be imagined,” he said.
Why the visit was important
Following the recently conducted mid-term elections, the control of the House will now shift to the opposition Republican party, which has members that had spoken up about the continuous donations to Ukraine as it continues the unending war. With the Republicans gaining control, it is unlikely that Biden’s request to send more American money to Ukraine would be approved easily by Congress. Hence the need for Zelensky to personally visit and convince them otherwise.
Many Americans have hailed the visit, and it appears that he had been able to convince the majority of Americans that their investment in Ukraine will not be in vain.