Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy caps US journey with plea to Congress

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Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy capped a whirlwind day in Washington with an impassioned plea to Congress and the American individuals to preserve up assist for Kyiv because it fights Russia’s invasion.

In a speech on Wednesday, Zelenskyy thanked lawmakers and the US public for broad and bipartisan assist and stated sustained commitments can be vital. The handle to each chambers of Congress got here simply weeks earlier than Republicans are set to take management of the Home with a pledge to extra carefully scrutinise Washington’s assist for Kyiv.

“Your assist is essential not only to face in such battle, however to get to the turning level to win on the battlefield,” he stated. “Your cash just isn’t charity, it’s an funding within the international safety and democracy that we deal with in essentially the most accountable means.”

Talking in English, Zelenskyy made a wide range of historic references — together with evaluating Ukrainian troopers within the Donbas to People who fought within the second world conflict’s Battle of the Bulge — framing Kyiv’s battle as a worldwide one and a crucial second in a wrestle to maintain the world order, a part of his try and shore up assist from a vital ally in his first journey out of Ukraine since Russia invaded final February.

“This battle can’t be frozen or postponed,” he stated. “It can’t be ignored.”

Zelenskyy acquired a number of standing ovations from the viewers in the course of the speech, which included members of the Senate and Home.

Earlier than his handle to Congress, Zelenskyy struck a extra defiant observe throughout an look on the White Home with president Joe Biden, questioning whether or not Kyiv may ever attain a “simply peace” with Moscow and urgent his US counterpart to ship further weapons to maintain his conflict effort by the winter.

The US president touted $1.85bn in new help together with a long-sought Patriot missile defence battery, and guaranteed his Ukrainian counterpart that Washington was ready to face by Kyiv “so long as it takes”.

Zelenskyy was effusive in his due to the US president and the American individuals, and through a gathering within the Oval Workplace made a extremely symbolic presentation to Biden of a navy medal from a frontline soldier commanding a unit armed by US-supplied cell artillery system. Later in Congress, Zelenskyy handed Nancy Pelosi, the Home speaker, a Ukrainian flag signed by troopers on the entrance strains in Bakhmut.

After almost 4 hours of conferences on the White Home, there have been some indicators of rigidity between the 2 presidents even amid the nice and cozy affirmations.

Zelenskyy’s questioning of whether or not he may ever attain a “simply peace” with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin got here after Biden and US officers publicly argued Ukraine’s chief was searching for simply that.

“For me as a president, ‘simply peace’ isn’t any compromises,” he stated, standing subsequent to Biden throughout a information convention within the White Home’s East Room.

“There can’t be any ‘simply peace’ within the conflict that was imposed on us,” he added, saying Kyiv wouldn’t comply with something wanting a return to full territorial integrity and “payback for all of the damages inflicted by Russian aggression”.

Biden additionally sought to mood Zelenskyy’s calls for for offensive armaments, arguing that an effort to offer weapon programs which might be “basically totally different” may threat rupturing the alliance of Western international locations the US is urgent to keep up.

Nonetheless, the White Home look of the 2 wartime allies in Washington — Zelenskyy clad in his customary navy inexperienced cargo pants and sweatshirt, Biden carrying a striped tie of Ukraine’s nationwide colors of blue and yellow — was a dramatic present of unity for 2 leaders who’ve staked their international locations’ future on bloodying a standard Russian foe.

Zelenskyy’s go to after greater than 300 days of conflict comes at a vital second within the Russian invasion. Officers in Kyiv have warned Moscow is gearing up for a attainable winter offensive as Ukraine fends off Russian assaults on two fronts: on the bottom, the place grinding fight between the militaries is underneath means, and within the skies, the place Moscow has pummeled Ukraine’s vital power infrastructure.

Western weaponry might be vital for Ukraine’s means to keep up its defences. Kyiv has lengthy sought the Patriot system, which analysts say might be a robust addition to the nation’s air defences, though it can not provide quick respite from the mass Russian missile and drone assaults which might be smashing Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

A senior US defence official stated the Patriots will complement different weaponry already supplied by the US and its Nato allies.

“For air defence, there is no such thing as a silver bullet,” the official stated. “Patriot will complement a variety of medium and short-range air defence capabilities that we’ve supplied and the allies have supplied in prior donation packages.”

Ukrainian forces will want a number of months of coaching earlier than they’ll have the opportunity to make use of the system efficiently, the official stated.

Along with the Patriot system, the US additionally introduced it can for the primary time switch joint direct assault munitions, which convert unguided aerial munitions into “sensible bombs”, permitting Ukrainian forces to extra exactly goal Russian navy positions.

Congress is ready to vote this week on a spending invoice that contains $45bn in further funds for Kyiv. The US has already dedicated tens of billions of {dollars} in navy, financial and humanitarian help to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February.

The Kremlin on Wednesday stated it didn’t anticipate any optimistic developments or modifications in Kyiv’s place on peace talks following Zelenskyy’s go to to Washington.

“The weapons provide to Ukraine continues, and their vary is increasing. It results in the battle aggravation and doesn’t bode Ukraine any good,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated.

Further reporting by Aime Williams in Washington, Anastasia Stognei in Riga and Christopher Miller in Kyiv

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