It is only Christmas, but like something out of a movie scrip showed up in the nation’s capitol and ended leaving a lot of questions and reflections.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, dressed in a sweatshirt and fatigues, landed in Washington on Wednesday for a White House meeting with President Biden just hours after the Biden administration announced that it will provide $1.85 billion more military aid to Ukraine for funding of patriot missiles that Putin has called “crossing the line.”
The new package includes $1 billion in weapons and equipment from Pentagon stocks, including the Patriot battery, and $850 million in funding through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. Part of the USAI will be used to fund a satellite communications system, which likely will include the crucial SpaceX Starlink satellite network system owned by Elon Musk.
At the White House, Biden welcomed Zelensky saying the U.S. and Ukraine would continue to project a “united defense” as Russia wages a “brutal assault on Ukraine’s right to exist as a nation.”
Zelenskyy said he wanted to visit earlier and his visit now showed the “situation is under control, because of your support.”
“As Russia continues its brutal attacks against critical infrastructure in Ukraine, the United States welcomes President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Washington, D.C. today to underscore our enduring commitment to the people of Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
And then Zelensky, still dressed in his sweatshirt and fatigues, addressed a joint session of Congress thanking Americans for over $100 billion that has no financial oversight calling it an “investment – not charity.”
“We defeated Russia in the minds of the world,” acclaimed Zelensky. “Russian tyranny has lost control on us. Russians will be free when they defeat the Kremlin in their minds.”
With “Ukrainian courage and American resources,“ Zelensky remarked, “Our two nations are allies in this battle.”
Zelensky said that Russia sent thugs to the frontline and convicts to the war, and Ukrainians still are standing. “We are all proud of them,” proclaimed Zelensky.
He compared Ukrainian soldiers fighting this Christmas to US soldiers fighting in 1940s.
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“We will never surrender.”
“Your support is crucial. We have artillery. Is it enough? Honestly – Not really,” he nodded. “Your money is not charity. It is an investment in global security…Russia could stop its aggression but you can speed up our victory. Russians are still poisoned by the Kremlin.”
Zelensky said that he discussed his ten point plan for peace with President Biden earlier in the day which the president supports.
Reminding his audience – those sitting before him and the television audience – the Ukrainian president reminded everyone that with Christmas upon us, Ukrainians will not have any electricity and running water or energy infrastructure.
“We Ukrainians will go through our war with dignity and success. We will celebrate Christmas.” said Zelensky. Noting Russian missiles and Iranian droves, Zelensky said that Ukrainians “wish only victory.”
We will “Put in place everyone who defies freedom – Putin,” concluded Zelensky.
What Zelensky left behind are unanswered questions about Zelensky shutting down all media in Ukraine which disagrees with his policies, closing churches and having Christians arrested whose worship he does not approve.
Although Zelensky and the Biden administration and others on Capitol Hill call this a democracy, Zelensky continues to pledge “no compromises” to end the war.
Earlier in the day, President Joe Biden and Congress rationalized the increase in aid as new assistance and a pledge to help Ukraine pursue a “just peace.”
Pressed on how he would try to bring an end to the war Zelenskyy rejected Biden’s framing of a “just peace,” saying, “For me as a president, ‘just peace’ is no compromises.” He said the war would end once Ukraine’s sovereignty, freedom and territorial integrity were restored, as well as the “payback for all the damages inflicted by Russian aggression.”
“There can’t be any ‘just peace’ in the war that was imposed on us,” he added.
Biden said bitterly that Russia is “trying to use winter as a weapon, but Ukrainian people continue to inspire the world. Later, in a joint news conference, he said Russian President Vladimir Putin has “no intention of stopping this cruel war.
Zelenskyy made clear he will continue to press Biden and other Western leaders for more support in the future.
The truth is no peace is ever achieved unless these compromises and the first step is diplomacy, but which seems off the table for this Christmas season.
After his address to Congress, Zelensky gifted a Ukrainian flag to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and in exchange he was gifted an American flag.