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 maintain 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 mentioned sustained commitments can be important. The tackle 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 intently scrutinise Washington’s assist for Kyiv.

“Your assist is essential not simply to face in such battle, however to get to the turning level to win on the battlefield,” he mentioned. “Your cash shouldn’t be charity, it’s an funding within the world safety and democracy that we deal with in probably the most accountable method.”

Talking in English, Zelenskyy made quite a lot 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 an vital second in a battle to protect the world order, a part of his try and shore up assist from a important ally in his first journey out of Ukraine since Russia invaded final February.

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

Zelenskyy obtained 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 tackle to Congress, Zelenskyy struck a extra defiant be aware throughout an look on the White Home with president Joe Biden, questioning whether or not Kyiv might ever attain a “simply peace” with Moscow and urgent his US counterpart to ship further weapons to maintain his conflict effort via 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 army medal from a frontline soldier commanding a unit armed by US-supplied cellular 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 practically 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 might 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 mentioned, 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 conform to 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 methods which are “essentially completely different” might 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 army inexperienced cargo pants and sweatshirt, Biden sporting 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 important second within the Russian invasion. Officers in Kyiv have warned Moscow is gearing up for a potential winter offensive as Ukraine fends off Russian assaults on two fronts: on the bottom, the place grinding fight between the militaries is below method, and within the skies, the place Moscow has pummeled Ukraine’s important power infrastructure.

Western weaponry might be important for Ukraine’s potential 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 won’t provide instant respite from the mass Russian missile and drone assaults which are smashing Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

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

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

Ukrainian forces will want a number of months of coaching earlier than they are going to have the ability to make use of the system efficiently, the official mentioned.

Along with the Patriot system, the US additionally introduced it is going to 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 army positions.

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

The Kremlin on Wednesday mentioned it didn’t count on 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 mentioned.

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

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