Aviva Fried with AFP
07:41, December 22, 2022
For his first official visit abroad since the beginning of the war, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky chose the United States. He was welcomed at the White House on Wednesday by his American counterpart Joe Biden. The two men spoke one-on-one before giving a joint press conference and then heading to the US Congress.
“You will never be alone”
Joe Biden promised President Zelensky on Wednesday that the Ukrainians would “never be alone” against Russia and that the United States would help kyiv “as long as it takes”. “You will never be alone,” said the US president during the joint press conference. “When the freedom of theUkraine was threatened, the American people, like generations of Americans before them, did not hesitate”.
Patriot missile system will “significantly strengthen” Ukrainian defense
The Patriot air defense system that the United States will supply to Ukraine will “significantly” strengthen Ukraine’s defense against Russian strikes, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday. “This is a very important step in creating a safe airspace for Ukraine,” he told reporters, in an interpreter’s translation, alongside President Joe Biden.
Biden is ‘not worried at all’ about the strength of the Western alliance
US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he was “not at all worried” about the strength of the Western alliance in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “I have never seen NATO or the EU so united on anything,” President Biden said from the White House. “Putin thought he would weaken NATO, instead he strengthened NATO,” he added.
A ‘just’ peace involves ‘no compromise’ on Ukraine’s territorial integrity
A “just peace” to end Russia’s war in Ukraine involves “no compromise” on Ukrainian territorial integrity, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday. “For me, as president, a just peace does not imply any compromise on the sovereignty, freedom and territorial integrity of my country,” assured the Ukrainian president from the White House.
“Ukraine will never surrender” assures Zelensky
Ukraine “holds its positions and will never surrender”, launched Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday to the applause of the American Congress, to which he assured that the money paid to Ukraine was not “charity” but a “investment”. Greeted by a standing ovation from members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Ukrainian President, dressed in his traditional khaki attire, in English and with the utmost solemnity, said: “Contrary to the most dire predictions, Ukraine has not fallen. Ukraine is alive and fighting.”
“Russian tyranny no longer has control over us”, he said again, acclaimed several times during a vibrant speech of about twenty minutes, which concluded his very first trip abroad. since the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
US aid is ‘not charity’ but ‘investment’, Zelensky tells lawmakers
Beyond the lyricism, the Ukrainian president has tried to convince Congress, which will partially switch to the side of the Republicans in January, to continue its massive aid. “I would like to thank you, thank you very much for the financial aids that you have given us and those that you could decide,” he said.
“Your money is not charity, it is an investment in global security and democracy, which we manage in the most responsible way”, launched Volodymyr Zelensky, in response to the concerns expressed by certain conservative officials who no longer want a “blank check” for kyiv. And this at a time when parliamentarians must approve a massive new package of nearly $45 billion in humanitarian and military assistance for Ukraine. He also linked the fight against Russia to the threat posed by Iran, a theme dear to the Republican camp which criticizes Democratic President Joe Biden for being too complacent in the face of Tehran.
Zelensky presents the US Congress with a Ukrainian flag
At the end of his speech, Volodymyr Zelensky turned to the leader of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and to Vice-President Kamala Harris, who chaired this exceptional session. “When I was in Bakhmout yesterday (a city in the east ravaged by fighting, editor’s note) our heroes gave me the flag, their flag. The banner of those who defend Ukraine, Europe and the world at the cost of their lives”, he underlined, before handing over to the leaders the blue and yellow flag, covered with the signatures of soldiers. In return, they presented him with an American flag that was hoisted atop the Capitol on Wednesday to mark his historic visit.