Zelenskyy makes an impassioned plea to Congress, asking for more


“Your support is crucial, not just to stand in such a fight, but to turn the corner to win on the battlefield,” he said, presenting his case directly to Washington on his first trip to the US. stranger since the invasion. “We have artillery, yes. We have it. Is it sufficient? Honestly, not really.

And judging by the thunderous applause echoing throughout the chamber of the House, that message was largely received. Hundreds of lawmakers filled the aisles with all the pomp and circumstance, and even the selfies, of a State of the Union address, many decked out in royal blue and yellow blazers and sashes to honor the Ukraine. A member, Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), draped the nation’s flag over his seat, holding it with the help of other members as Zelensky entered the chamber.

The real test for Zelenskyy, however, came on the other side of the chamber, where several GOP skeptics — whose party will soon hold a majority in the House — sat stoically throughout the speech, even as that their colleagues stood up and applauded.

“I don’t think it changed anyone’s heart and mind,” Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), the new chairman of the Republican Study Committee, moments after the speech. “I think those who are just going to support Ukraine wholeheartedly are going to continue to do so. People like me, we’re going to continue to stay in the realm of ‘We have to protect this nation first.’

Some of that GOP resistance was clarified this week, as party leaders work to pass a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill that includes about $45 billion in aid to Ukraine.

“Even in the omni, we protect other nations’ borders and not our own,” Hern said, pointing to other needs such as the US southern border.

Most of the members, however, seemed particularly thrilled when Zelensky spoke about his suffering country’s energy shortages over Christmas.

Zelenskyy ended by thanking Biden, the Senate and the House for their financial and military support. “I thank every American family,” Zelenskyy said, just before unfurling a signed flag – donated by soldiers from the town of Bakhmut on the front line. to President Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris. Pelosi kissed Zelenskyy’s hand and cheek as she took the token, then held it above her head with the help of Harris, as members of the entire chamber cheered and cheered.

Zelenskyy cited Bakhmut, a key town in the Donbass region he visited on Tuesday, as a key area that desperately needs US support. There must be enough assistance to ensure that it is not just a bastion that holds Russia at bay, but a city that is completely free from invading forces. Securing this city, he said, could be a turning point for the war.

The Ukrainian president also said he spoke with President Joe Biden about his 10-point peace formula to end the war, which Biden has supported.

“Your money is not charity,” he said, receiving one of nearly two dozen standing ovations that night. “It is an investment in global security and democracy that we manage in the most responsible way.”

Pelosi, who is in the final days of his term, then presented Zelenskyy with an American flag that had flown over the Capitol that day in his honor.

The speech, which Biden and Pelosi had been secretly planning for weeks, came as a shock to the Capitol in its busiest week of the year, with a spending bill of nearly $1.7 trillion. Earlier this week, many members dreaded returning to Washington amid threats of a government shutdown and a massive snowstorm. Instead, they were given a historic global address.

It’s also something of a political crowning achievement for Pelosi in her final days as president, who made her own surprise trip to Kyiv in May, the first trip by a party leader.


Politico

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