Zelenskyy Appeals to Congress for Assistance


Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy receives a U.S. flag from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi following his address to Congress on December 21. | Image by Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made his case to Congress on Wednesday for continued assistance for his country in its war against Russia.

Receiving a two-to-three-minute standing ovation before addressing a joint session of Congress, this was the first time Zelenskyy spoke outside of Ukraine since the war with Russia began.

“All those who value freedom and justice, who cherish strongly — as we Ukrainians — our cities, and each and every family, I hope my words of respect and gratitude resonate in each American heart,” Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy emphasized the effect of American support in his country’s war with Russia, referencing the fact that, in spite of early predictions of a swift Russian victory, Ukraine has held out.

“Against all odds and doom and gloom … Ukraine didn’t fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking,” he said to applause.

“Your support is crucial, not just to stand in such a fight, but to get to the turning point to win on the battlefield,” Zelenskyy said. “For the Russian army to pull out completely, more cannons and shells are needed.”

Zelenskyy said that the world is too interconnected for individual countries to stay safe and watch the battle from the sidelines.

“Not only for life, freedom, and security of Ukrainians…this struggle will define in what world our children and grandchildren will live. And then their children and grandchildren,” Zelenskyy argued.

He referenced the Battle of the Bulge in World War II — a Christmastime battle between American and German forces — and likened it to a revolutionary struggle connected to Ukraine’s struggle against Russia.

“Ukrainians are doing the same to Putin’s forces this Christmas,” Zelenskyy said.

In the latter part of his speech, Zelenskyy spoke about some of the things his countrymen will be experiencing over the Christmas holiday.

“In two days, we will celebrate Christmas, maybe candle lit. Not because it’s more romantic, no, but because there will be no electricity,” he said. “Millions won’t have neither heat nor running water. All of these will be the result of Russian missile and drone attacks on energy infrastructure. But we don’t complain. We do not judge and compare whose life is easier.

“Your well-being is a product of your national security, the result of your struggle for independence, and your many victories,” Zelenskyy went on. “Ukrainians will also go through its war of independence and freedom with dignity and respect.”

Earlier that day, Zelenskyy met with President Joe Biden, who said in a joint press conference that  it was “important for the American people, and for the world, to hear directly from you, Mr. President, about Ukraine’s fight, and the need to continue to stand together through 2023.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Russia will achieve its military goals in Ukraine.

Not all members of Congress are enthusiastic about increased financial aid for Ukraine.

Advocates of restrained foreign policy such as Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) have repeatedly argued that sending tens of billions of American dollars to the European country is “not in America’s interests.”

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), meanwhile, said in an interview with The Hill that the United States should not sign a “blank check” for Ukraine.

This statement was supported by Robert O’Brien, former national security advisor under Donald Trump.

“We should continue to be extraordinarily generous with the Ukrainians, but we need to make sure that the arms we supply Ukraine don’t end up in Russian hands or end up in some other government’s hands,” O’Brien said. “We must ensure that these platforms are used efficiently and properly by the Ukrainian military.”

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights verified that nearly 7,000 civilians have lost their lives in the war in Ukraine as of December 18, including 428 children, though the total numbers could be much higher.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, though the broader conflict extends back at least as far as 2014, when armed conflicts with Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas region began.

From the start of the war to Zelenskyy’s appearance before Congress, the United States had sent roughly $48 billion in aid to Ukraine, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

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3 months ago

Maybe we should plead before Congress for assistance with our Southern border.