‘Aid not charity’: Zelensky urges US Congress for more support
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, urged more US support, telling Congress that the aid to the country is an investment in democracy “not a handout.”
In his address to US lawmakers, Zelensky invoked American battles against the Nazis in World War II to press for more aid for Ukraine’s war effort against Russia.
His comments on Wednesday come as Republicans – some of whom have expressed growing skepticism about sending too much aid to Ukraine – prepare to take control of the US House of Representatives from Democrats on Jan. 3.
Some hardline Republicans have even urged an end to the aid and an audit to track how the allocated money is being spent.
“Your money is not charity. It is an investment in global security and democracy that we deal with in the most responsible way,” Zelensky told a joint session of the US Senate and House of Representatives, speaking in English.
The world is too interconnected to allow any country to stand aside and feel safe, Zelensky said, and also called for bipartisan support.
Earlier, Zelensky, dressed in olive green slacks and a jacket for his first wartime foreign visit, met with President Joe Biden, who called for continued support flows into 2023.
The United States also announced another $1.85 billion in military aid to Ukraine, including a Patriot air defense system to help it fend off Russian missile barrages.
Zelensky said that the Patriot system was an important step in creating an air shield.
“This is the only way we can deny the terrorist state the main tool of terror – the possibility of hitting our cities, our energy,” Zelensky said at a White House press conference, alongside Biden.
“We’d like to have more Patriots,” Zelensky told reporters at the White House. “We’re at war.”
Russia says it launched its “own military operation” in Ukraine in February to rid it of nationalists and protect Russian-speaking communities. Ukraine and the West describe Russia’s actions as an unjustified war of aggression.
Ukraine has suffered repeated Russian strikes on its energy infrastructure in recent weeks, leaving millions without electricity or running water in a bitterly cold winter.
The Russian ambassador was quoted by Tass news agency as saying that Zelensky’s visit confirmed that the US statements regarding unwillingness to conflict with Russia are empty words.
TASS quoted Anatoly Antonov as saying that America’s provocative actions in Ukraine led to an escalation, the consequences of which were impossible to imagine.
Russia said last week that the Patriot systems, if delivered to Ukraine, would be a legitimate target for Russian strikes.
Zelensky joined a long list of world leaders to address joint meetings of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, a tradition that began in 1874 with a visit by Hawaiian King Kalākaua and included near-legendary wartime visits by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, kings, queens, and singles. Pope.
House members and senators from both parties rose to their feet to cheer on parts of Zelensky’s speech in which he likened his country’s fight to World War II and even the American Revolution.
Referring to former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who served between 1933 and 1945, and efforts to liberate Europe from Nazi occupation, Zelensky pleaded with Americans as they gathered with family at Christmas.
“Just like the brave American soldiers, who stood their ground and resisted Hitler’s forces during Christmas 1944, the brave Ukrainian soldiers are doing the same with Putin’s forces this Christmas,” he said.
Congress is about to approve an additional $44.9 billion in emergency military and economic aid, on top of about $50 billion already sent to Ukraine this year as Europe’s largest territorial dispute since World War Two continues.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Washington sees no sign of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s willingness to engage in peacemaking.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said increased Western arms supplies to Ukraine would “deepen” the conflict.
Zelensky said that the “just peace” with Russia does not mean any concessions on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
On Wednesday evening, the Ukrainian army said that Russian forces attacked targets in the Zaporizhia region, pushing to advance near the towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka on the destroyed eastern front line, the epicenter of the fighting in the Donetsk region.
The commander of the Ukrainian “Freedom” battalion, Petro Kozik, who is helping defend Bakhmut, told Espreso TV: “Every day, there are seven to ten attempts to storm our positions. It’s the same at night.”
“They will not be able to take Bakhmut,” Kozik said, “but if they take the heights above it, install their artillery and cut our logistical arteries, it will make the situation more difficult.”
Putin has promised to give his army everything it needs to sustain the war as it approaches its tenth month and has endorsed a plan to increase the size of the armed forces by more than 30%.