Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed a Joint Session of Congress Wednesday night. Because of obvious security concerns, the trip had been organized under a cloud of secrecy. The first word leaked out about the speech when President Zelensky was in a military aircraft headed for the United States (see: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to Address Joint Session of Congress).
President Zelensky appeared before the Joint Session in his trademarked green, collarless shirt to underscore the role he was forced into on February 24, that of the wartime leader of a nation fighting for its survival.
He had three major tasks. First, he had to convince Congress that he is the guy who can beat Russia and lock in continued support. Second, he had to make a case for the United States to continue to provide more advanced weaponry to prevent another “frozen conflict.” Lastly, he had to try to win over the small number of Republican House members who have decided, for whatever reason, that it serves their political goals best if Russia prevails in this war.
There was a bit of showmanship as President Zelensky presented the House and Senate with a Ukrainian flag signed by men defending the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut against the Russians in a struggle that has become Verdun-line. Just the day before President Zelensky flew to Washington, he received the flag while visiting Ukrainian troops in positions less than two miles from the frontline trenches.
Ukrainian troops handed over the Ukrainian flag to President Zelensky so that he can relay it to the US Congress as a token of gratitude for all the weapons which are used in defending Bakhmut and whole Ukraine. #Bakhmut #Ukraine #Donetsk pic.twitter.com/EOoolJEG1d
— (((Tendar))) (@Tendar) December 20, 2022
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky presented the U.S. with a flag from Bakhmut defenders during his address to Congress on Wednesday. "The flag of those who defend Ukraine, Europe and the world at the cost of their lives," Zelensky said. pic.twitter.com/0VP0fS3bo2
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) December 22, 2022
During a joint meeting of Congress, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky presents House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a Ukrainian flag from soldiers from the front lines in Ukraine, while Pelosi gifts Zelensky the US flag that flew over the Capitol Building today. pic.twitter.com/7FoLa9Yl7L
— DJ Judd (@DJJudd) December 22, 2022
On the whole, I think President Zelensky accomplished the key task of locking in Congressional support for Ukraine. I think he hit the right balance of thanking the United States for its aid, making the case that this war has significance for us and for Europe as well as for Ukraine, and asking Congress to give him more advanced weapons.
The only way this war will end without Ukrainian surrender is for the US to introduce modern aircraft and tanks to replace the Russian trash Ukraine is currently employing. Unless Putin is staring abject defeat squarely in the face, he has no reason to do anything other than what he’s doing right now. As the aggressor in this war, he is the one who must be brought to the peace table to ask for terms. Unfortunately, the “foreign policy realist” bunch are so stuck on preserving their “expertise” about a political system where Russia is a “great power,” that they’d rather have another Thirty Years War than have that expertise flushed down the crapper.
My primary concern is that the actions of some members of Congress have gone a long way toward making Ukraine’s struggle, which I think we should fully support, into a domestic partisan issue. So, on the one hand, you have this bunch you encounter online.
why do the worst kinds of shit people use the UKR flag emoji? It has nearly become a “WARNING! You are dealing with a shit person” sign.
— streiff (@streiffredstate) December 21, 2022
Then you have this kind of childish, bullsh** behavior.
Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie is myopic and misguided on the issue, but at least he had the decency to stay away instead of beclowning himself.
In my view, the California Republican didn’t help himself by showing up with Ukrainian regalia.
It was almost like he was drawing a strong visual distinction between himself and Gaetz, who is opposing his run for Speaker. But, on the other hand, McCarthy did not accompany President Zelensky, along with House and Senate leadership of both parties, as he walked through the Capitol’s Statuary Hall.
Ukranian President Zelensky was greeted by House and Senate bipartisan leaders in National Statuary Hall before meeting with them behind closed doors, followed by his address to a joint meeting of Congress. pic.twitter.com/U1PSaKKsWj
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) December 21, 2022
In my view, providing Ukraine with whatever it needs to defend its independence and territorial integrity should be a bipartisan issue. To the extent that anyone is making it otherwise, they are doing the US and Ukraine a grave disservice.
President Zelensky’s speech was a success, though perhaps not the immediate one he had hoped. He’s assured of continued US backing. He’s convinced Congress that he can do the job, which gives him increased political clout at home. And I think in the next six months, we will see the Biden White House move away from their reluctance to give Ukraine weapons superior to whatever the Russians are fielding as they try to bring this war to a close with Putin as the obvious loser.
Thank you so much. Thank you so much for that. Thank you. It’s too much for me. All this for our great people. Thank you so much.
Dear Americans, in all states, cities and communities, all those who value freedom and justice, who cherish it as strongly as we Ukrainians in our cities, in each and every family, I hope my words of respect and gratitude resonate in each American heart.
Madam Vice President, I thank you for your efforts in helping Ukraine. Madam Speaker, you bravely visited Ukraine during the full-fledged war. Thank you very much. Great honor. Thank you.
I am very privileged to be here. Dear members of the Congress, representatives of both parties who also visited Kyiv, esteemed congressmen and senators from both parties who will visit Ukraine, I am sure, in the future; dear representatives of diaspora, present in this chamber, and spread across the country; dear journalists, it’s a great honor for me to be at the U.S. Congress and speak to you and all Americans.
Against all odds and doom-and-gloom scenarios, Ukraine didn’t fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking. Thank you. And it gives me good reason to share with you our first, first joint victory: We defeated Russia in the battle for minds of the world. We have no fear, nor should anyone in the world have it. Ukrainians gained this victory, and it gives us courage which inspires the entire world.
Americans gained this victory, and that’s why you have succeeded in uniting the global community to protect freedom and international law. Europeans gained this victory, and that’s why Europe is now stronger and more independent than ever. The Russian tyranny has lost control over us. And it will never influence our minds again.
Yet, we have to do whatever it takes to ensure that countries of the Global South also gain such victory. I know one more, I think very important, thing: The Russians will stand a chance to be free only when they defeat the Kremlin in their minds. Yet, the battle continues, and we have to defeat the Kremlin on the battlefield, yes.
This battle is not only for the territory, for this or another part of Europe. The battle is not only for life, freedom and security of Ukrainians or any other nation which Russia attempts to conquer. This struggle will define in what world our children and grandchildren will live, and then their children and grandchildren.
It will define whether it will be a democracy of Ukrainians and for Americans — for all. This battle cannot be frozen or postponed. It cannot be ignored, hoping that the ocean or something else will provide a protection. From the United States to China, from Europe to Latin America, and from Africa to Australia, the world is too interconnected and interdependent to allow someone to stay aside and at the same time to feel safe when such a battle continues.
Our two nations are allies in this battle. And next year will be a turning point, I know it, the point when Ukrainian courage and American resolve must guarantee the future of our common freedom, the freedom of people who stand for their values.
Ladies and gentlemen — ladies and gentlemen, Americans, yesterday before coming here to Washington, D.C., I was at the front line in our Bakhmut. In our stronghold in the east of Ukraine, in the Donbas. The Russian military and mercenaries have been taking Bakhmut nonstop since May. They have been taking it day and night, but Bakhmut stands.
Last year — last year, 70,000 people lived here in Bakhmut, in this city, and now only few civilians stay. Every inch of that land is soaked in blood; roaring guns sound every hour. Trenches in the Donbas change hands several times a day in fierce combat, and even hand fighting. But the Ukrainian Donbas stands.
Russians — Russians use everything, everything they have against Bakhmut and other our beautiful cities. The occupiers have a significant advantage in artillery. They have an advantage in ammunition. They have much more missiles and planes than we ever had. It’s true, but our defense forces stand. And — and we all are proud of them.
The Russians’ tactic is primitive. They burn down and destroy everything they see. They sent thugs to the front lines. They sent convicts to the war. They threw everything against us, similar to the other tyranny, which is in the Battle of the Bulge. Threw everything it had against the free world, just like the brave American soldiers which held their lines and fought back Hitler’s forces during the Christmas of 1944. Brave Ukrainian soldiers are doing the same to Putin’s forces this Christmas.
Ukraine — Ukraine holds its lines and will never surrender. So, so, here the front line, the tyranny which has no lack of cruelty against the lives of free people — and your support is crucial, not just to stand in such fight but to get to the turning point to win on the battlefield.
We have artillery, yes. Thank you. We have it. Is it enough? Honestly, not really. To ensure Bakhmut is not just a stronghold that holds back the Russian Army, but for the Russian Army to completely pull out, more cannons and shells are needed. If so, just like the Battle of Saratoga, the fight for Bakhmut will change the trajectory of our war for independence and for freedom.
If your Patriots stop the Russian terror against our cities, it will let Ukrainian patriots work to the full to defend our freedom. When Russia — when Russia cannot reach our cities by its artillery, it tries to destroy them with missile attacks. More than that, Russia found an ally in this — in this genocidal policy: Iran. Iranian deadly drones sent to Russia in hundreds — in hundreds became a threat to our critical infrastructure. That is how one terrorist has found the other.
It is just a matter of time when they will strike against your other allies if we do not stop them now. We must do it. I believe there should be no taboos between us in our alliance. Ukraine never asked the American soldiers to fight on our land instead of us. I assure you that Ukrainian soldiers can perfectly operate American tanks and planes themselves.
Financial assistance is also critically important, and I would like to thank you, thank you very much, thank you for both financial packages you have already provided us with and the ones you may be willing to decide on. Your money is not charity. It’s an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.
Russia, Russia could stop its aggression, really, if it wanted to, but you can speed up our victory. I know it. And it, it will prove to any potential aggressor that no one can succeed in breaking national borders, no one committing atrocities and reigning over people against their will. It would be naïve to wait for steps towards peace from Russia, which enjoys being a terrorist state. Russians are still poisoned by the Kremlin.
The restoration of international legal order is our joint task. We need peace, yes. Ukraine has already offered proposals, which I just discussed with President Biden, our peace formula, 10 points which should and must be implemented for our joint security, guaranteed for decades ahead and the summit which can be held.
I’m glad to say that President Biden supported our peace initiative today. Each of you, ladies and gentlemen, can assist in the implementation to ensure that America’s leadership remains solid, bicameral and bipartisan. Thank you.
You can strengthen sanctions to make Russia feel how ruinous its aggression truly is. It is in your power, really, to help us bring to justice everyone who started this unprovoked and criminal war. Let’s do it. Let terrorist — let the terrorist state be held responsible for its terror and aggression and compensate all losses done by this war. Let the world see that the United States are here.
Ladies and gentlemen — ladies and gentlemen, Americans, in two days we will celebrate Christmas. Maybe candlelit. Not because it’s more romantic, no, but because there will not be, there will be no electricity. Millions won’t have neither heating nor running water. All of these will be the result of Russian missile and drone attacks on our energy infrastructure.
But we do not complain. We do not judge and compare whose life is easier. Your well-being is the product of your national security; the result of your struggle for independence and your many victories. We, Ukrainians, will also go through our war of independence and freedom with dignity and success.
We’ll celebrate Christmas. Celebrate Christmas and, even if there is no electricity, the light of our faith in ourselves will not be put out. If Russian — if Russian missiles attack us, we’ll do our best to protect ourselves. If they attack us with Iranian drones and our people will have to go to bomb shelters on Christmas Eve, Ukrainians will still sit down at the holiday table and cheer up each other. And we don’t, don’t have to know everyone’s wish, as we know that all of us, millions of Ukrainians, wish the same: Victory. Only victory.
We already built strong Ukraine, with strong people, strong army, strong institutions together with you. We developed strong security guarantees for our country and for entire Europe and the world, together with you. And also together with you, we’ll put in place everyone who will defy freedom. Put-in.
This will be the basis to protect democracy in Europe and the world over. Now, on this special Christmastime, I want to thank you, all of you. I thank every American family which cherishes the warmth of its home and wishes the same warmth to other people. I thank President Biden and both parties, at the Senate and the House, for your invaluable assistance. I thank your cities and your citizens who supported Ukraine this year, who hosted our Ukrainians, our people, who waved our national flags, who acted to help us. Thank you all, from everyone who is now at the front line, from everyone who is awaiting victory.
Standing here today, I recall the wars of the president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which are I think so good for this moment. The American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory. The Ukrainian people will win, too, absolutely.
I know that everything depends on us, on Ukrainian armed forces, yet so much depends on the world. So much in the world depends on you. When I was in Bakhmut yesterday, our heroes gave me the flag, the battle flag, the flag of those who defend Ukraine, Europe and the world at the cost of their lives. They asked me to bring this flag to you, to the U.S. Congress, to members of the House of Representatives and senators whose decisions can save millions of people.
So, let these decisions be taken. Let this flag stay with you, ladies and gentlemen. This flag is a symbol of our victory in this war. We stand, we fight and we will win because we are united — Ukraine, America and the entire free world.
Just one thing, if I can, the last thing — thank you so much, may God protect our brave troops and citizens, may God forever bless the United States of America. Merry Christmas and a happy, victorious New Year. Slava Ukraini. [Glory to Ukraine.]