(CNN) — President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to the White House on Wednesday will symbolically reinforce America’s role as democracy’s arsenal in Ukraine’s bitter war for survival and deliver a surprise public rebuke to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
His first trip outside Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February will also highlight President Joe Biden’s historic role in reviving the Western alliance in the United States that kept the Soviet Union in check and now in an effective proxy war between Russia and Resisted Moscow’s new expansionism. Nuclear superpowers.
Zelensky’s arrival will bring poignant echoes of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s arrival in Washington, an event that will mark its 81st anniversary on Thursday, days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. That Christmas visit cemented the coalition that would win World War II and build a more democratic post-war world.
Zelensky compared his country’s resistance against Russia to Britain’s lone defiance of the Nazis in the days before America’s entry into World War II during a video address to the UK Parliament earlier this year, and the US capital His arrival in would underline the similarity to the previous meeting of Churchill and President Franklin Roosevelt.
His visit is taking place amid extraordinary security measures. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn’t even confirm initial reports that she would welcome Zelensky to the US Capitol in an unexpected coda to her presidency, saying Tuesday night: “Not yet. We know. We just don’t.” Know.”
A White House reception for Zelensky, who sources say is due to visit the United States on Tuesday night, would above all be a sure sign of US and Western support for Ukraine’s fight against Putin, who says The rights of the country will not exist. The war is an example of what Biden has framed as a global struggle between democracy and authoritarianism, which he has placed at the center of his foreign policy.
Democratic Representative Ruben Gallego of Arizona, who visited Ukraine earlier this month, said on CNN’s “AC360” that Zelensky was coming to Washington on a specific mission. Gallego, a member of the Armed Services Commission, said, “What he’s trying to do is establish a direct link between our support and survival and a future victory for Ukraine.”
Zelensky arrives for new US military aid.
A US official told CNN’s Phil Mattingly that during the visit, Biden would announce an additional $1.8 billion in security aid for Ukraine, which includes the coveted Patriot missile system. Sources told CNN’s Pentagon team that Washington also plans to send precision bomb kits to Ukraine to convert less sophisticated weapons into “smart bombs” that could help attack Russian defensive lines. Zelensky’s visit also comes as Congress is set to approve an additional $45 billion in aid for Ukraine and NATO allies, deepening a commitment that has cost Kyiv’s forces unexpectedly bloody over Putin’s forces. Helped to install.
The decision on the Patriot system, which will meet a long-standing Ukrainian request, reflects a US process of matching its aid with Russia’s changing attack strategy. The system will help Kyiv better counter Russia’s brutal missile attacks on cities and power facilities, which it has mounted in an effective effort to weaponize the harsh winter to break the will of Ukrainian citizens.
The meeting between Biden and Zelensky, who have spoken by phone and video on several occasions but have not seen each other in person since the invasion, comes at a critical time in the war. Biden has for months been carefully calibrating US shipments of weapons and weapons systems designed to save Ukraine but also prevent the conflict from escalating into a disastrous direct confrontation between NATO and Russia. For example, he rejected Ukrainian calls for the West to impose a no-fly zone on the country. The Patriot, a long-range air defense system, will represent America’s deepest dive into the conflict yet.
Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Wesley Clark said Zelensky’s visit marks a critical moment when Russia can regroup before the fate of the war Ukraine cannot win without US support.
“This is a window of opportunity for Ukraine and also a window of danger,” Clark told CNN’s John Berman on “AC360” Tuesday.
“Russia is weak, (but) Russia will be strong. This is a period in which the United States needs to lend its support. … This is the window, President Zelensky knows … if he wants the support of the United States.” than, are going to defeat the Russian invasion in Ukraine,” Clarke said.
“Wait until the summer and it will be a completely different battlefield.”
How will Putin react to Zelensky’s visit?
But the highly public nature of Zelensky’s trip, and the expected announcement about the Patriot system, risks further provoking Putin at a time when he has said that, as devastating as the war has been for Russian troops, he thinks long term , bet that the West’s commitment will eventually wane.
His visit to Congress will play into an increasingly important debate on Capitol Hill over aid to Ukraine as Republicans prepare to take over the House majority in the new year. Some pro-Donald Trump members, who will have significant influence over the slim Republican majority, have warned that billions of dollars of US cash that has been sent to Ukraine should instead shore up the country’s southern border, where new infections have cropped up. Immigrants are expected to arrive in the coming days.
Aware of the pressure on his authority, the potential next Speaker of the House of Representatives, Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California warned that Ukraine should not expect a “blank check” from the new House. While Ukraine still enjoys strong Republican support in the Senate, it is these changing political dynamics that inform the Kremlin’s perceptions of how long US resolve will last in a conflict on which Putin’s political survival may well depend. Could
Zelensky’s pre-Christmas trip promises to be the biggest PR coup ever for the comedian and media-savvy president, who has delved into the history and patriotic mythology of Western countries in a series of videos aimed at war-torn lawmakers. cleverly exploited. Kyiv. Often, while grateful for outside support, he appears to be trying to shame the West into doing more and create a deeper understanding among voters about the problems facing Ukraine.
In March, for example, Zelensky invoked Mount Rushmore and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech during a virtual address to Congress. He also referred to the infamous two days in modern history when the fear of aerial bombardment was first experienced by Americans.
“Recall Pearl Harbor, that dreadful morning of December 7, 1941, when your sky was black with bomber planes. Just remember it,” Zelensky said. “Remember 9/11, a dreadful day in 2001 when evil tried to turn your cities, your free zones, into battlegrounds. When innocent people were attacked, attacked from the air, as no one else expected, they could not stop it. Our country remains the same every day.
in the footsteps of Churchill
When Zelensky arrives in Washington, he may experience the same revelation Churchill experienced about the capital’s twinkling lights at Christmas after months at home in darkness caused by air raids.
The British wartime leader sailed for the United States aboard HMS Duke of York, dodging submarines in the frigid Atlantic and took a plane from the Virginia Coast to Washington, where President Franklin met him on December 22, 1941. Roosevelt before their joint press conference the next day.
During days of brainstorming and meetings – sherry for breakfast by the Churchill regime, Scotch and soda for lunch, champagne in the evening and a shot of 90-year-old brandy before bedtime – the two leaders discussed a plan to defeat the Nazis. Formed Germany and Imperial Japan and laid the foundation for the Western alliance that Biden has reinvigorated in his support for Ukraine.
Churchill, who had prepared for America’s involvement in World War II for months and knew it was the key to defeating Adolf Hitler, said during his visit: “I spent this anniversary and celebration away from my country, away from my family. And although, I cannot be honest, I feel very far from home”.
Zelensky will surely receive a similar hero’s welcome and will hope that the additional American support means that Washington has indeed “drawn the sword of liberty and thrown it away”, as Churchill put it in his speech to Congress. I said about the Roosevelt administration. , 1941.
The Ukrainian leader is likely to appreciate the historical parallel. He had already paraphrased one of Churchill’s most famous wartime speeches in an emotional address to members of Britain’s parliament in March.
He said, “We will not give up, we will not give up, we will reach every point.”