Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday that Ukraine was still standing “against all odds” as he made a defiant visit to Washington to thank the government and “ordinary Americans” for their support in repelling the invasion. He promised that there would be no “concessions” in efforts to end the war.
In an impassioned speech before Congress to drum up support for his country’s defense, Zelensky said that over the past year he has received tens of billions of dollars in military and economic aid from the United States, which Ukraine is trying to push back against Russia. important in the efforts of the , and called for more help in the future
“Your money is not charity,” he said in an effort to reassure attendees and those watching the speech at home. “This is an investment in global security and democracy that we have managed in the most responsible way.”
President Joe Biden addressed Congress after hosting Zelensky in the Oval Office, where he said the United States and Ukraine continue to present a “united defense” in the face of Russia’s “brutal assault” on “Ukraine’s right to exist”. Will keep nation” and vowed to help achieve a “just peace”.
Zelensky made his first known foreign trip since Russia’s invasion of his country in February, saying he wanted to go to Washington as soon as possible and that his visit at this time showed that “the situation is under control to help you.”
Addressing lawmakers, the Ukrainian president predicted that next year would be a “turning point” in the conflict, “when Ukrainian courage and American determination must guarantee the future of our common freedom, a people who defend its values.” “
Zelensky received a standing ovation from members of Congress and presented lawmakers with a Ukrainian flag signed by soldiers at the battlefield in Bakhmut in the disputed Donetsk region, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice Speaker Kamala Harris followed behind the Ukrainian president. did. He spoke on the podium. Pelosi presented him with the American flag that flew over the Capitol that day.
Declaring that Ukraine would “never give up”, Zelensky warned that much more was at stake than the fate of his nation, assuring that democracies were being tested around the world.
“You can’t ignore the fight that the sea or anything else will give us security,” he said, speaking in English in what he said was “a speech to Americans.”
Zelensky appeared aware of the longstanding political division in the United States over foreign spending, calling on lawmakers to ensure the United States remained “bicameral and bipartisan”.
At a joint press conference with Biden, Zelensky was asked how he would try to end the conflict. He dismissed Biden’s “just peace” statements, saying: “For me, as president, ‘just peace’ is without compromise.” He stated that the war would end once Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity were restored, and once Russia made Ukraine pay for all damages done by its forces.
“There can be no ‘just peace’ in a war imposed on us,” he said.
The delicate visit comes after 10 months of intense fighting that has left thousands of victims on both fronts and devastated the Ukrainian people. Zelensky’s visit was aimed at reinvigorating support for his country in the United States and around the world, amid concerns that his allies are frustrated by the costly war and the havoc it has wreaked on global food supplies and energy.
Shortly before his arrival, the United States announced its largest-ever arms shipment to Ukraine, including Patriot surface-to-air missiles, and Congress planned to vote on a spending initiative that would include Ukraine. Includes approximately $45 billion in emergency assistance for
Biden said Russia “tries to use winter as a weapon, but the Ukrainian people remain an inspiration to the world.” Later, at a joint press conference, they assured that Russian President Vladimir Putin “has no intention of ending this brutal war.”
The two leaders appeared to share a warm rapport during the meeting, laughing at each other’s comments and slapping each other on the back, although Zelensky made it clear that he wanted to pressure Biden and other Western governments for additional aid. will continue.
Castillo reported from Kyiv, Ukraine.
Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor, Tara Koop, Amer Madhani, Chris Megerian and Seung Min Kim in Washington; Hanna Ahirova, in Kyiv; and Andrew Cattell in New York contributed to this report.