Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Wednesday that billions of dollars that the United States gave it to battle Russian invasion and that the European country approved of, was not charity, but an investment in global security. Zelenskyy was speaking at the US Capitol while talking to the Congress.
This was his first ever visit outside Ukraine, since Russia invaded it in February 2022. He told the Congressmen in the House of Representatives chamber that he believed US lawmakers would continue to give their support from both sides, as the House would have a major control of Republicans on Jan 3, 2023.
Zelenskyy honored at the US Congress
“Your money is not charity,” Zelenskyy said, he was wearing the khaki military uniform that have been his public uniform during the 300 days of conflict. “It is an investment in the global security and democracy.”
Zelenskyy needed his speech to connect with House Republicans, who have expressed growing doubt about continuing to give so much help to Ukraine, after meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House.
There were several loud applauses when Zelenskiy entered the packed chamber. As he entered, three people held up a big Ukrainian flag.
“It is a great honor for me to be at the U.S. Congress and speak to you and all Americans. Against all doom and gloom scenarios, Ukraine did not fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking,” said Zelenskyy.
“We defeated Russia in the battle for the minds of the world,” he added.
Zelenskyy was part of a huge number of world leaders to take part in the joint meetings of the Senate and House, a tradition that began in 1874 with a visit by Hawaiian King Kalakaua and was marked with big legendary wartime visits by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, kings, queens and one pope.
House members and senators from both parties jumped continually to cheer at different points of Zelenskyy’s speech in English such as, “Ukraine holds its lines and will never surrender,” as he compared Ukraine’s fight against Russian forces with great battles of the Second World War and even the American Revolution.
As of yet, no signs of peace talks in an attempt to end the war can be seen, as both the warring parties have given clear signs of keep fighting, though Zelenskyy still shows some peaceful attempts as he discussed a 10-point Ukrainian peace formula with Biden.
“I’m glad that President Biden supported our peace initiative today. Each of you today ladies and gentlemen can assist in the implementation to ensure that American leadership remains solid, bicameral, and bipartisan,” Zelenskiy said to the lawmakers.
Preparations for Zelenskyy’s speech started in October, according to an assistant of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, when she met with Ruslan Stefanchuk, chairman of Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. Pelosi was there for the First Parliamentary Summit of the International Crimea Platform in Zagreb, Croatia, at the time.
It has been 300 days when Russian troops invaded Ukraine and in the midst of continual rocket attacks that have destroyed many Ukrainian cities, Zelenskyy executed the meet, being fully aware of the economic control of the US under Senate and House.
He kept his timing perfect, as the two houses of the Congress are almost going to approve an additional $44.9 billion in new emergency military and economic assistance, apart from around $50 billion already sent to Ukraine this year.
Daniel Fried, former US ambassador to Poland and a fellow at the Atlantic Council, said Zelenskiy’s US visit showed that he and Biden have a common belief that the United States, even after its many mistakes, is leader of the free world.
Zelenskiy, Fried said, “didn’t go to Berlin, Brussels, London or Paris” for his first foreign visit since the war broke out between Russia and Ukraine.
In addition to providing military support, Zelenskiy’s reception as a supporter of democracy sent a much deeper message. It was intended to send a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that despite recent indications of dissatisfaction among some Republican senators over the mounting cost, the United States and its NATO allies stand resolutely behind Ukraine.