Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for more U.S. support, telling Congress that helping the country is an investment in democracy, not “charity.”
In his address to US lawmakers, Zelenskiy cited America’s battles against the Nazis during World War II to demand more help for Ukraine’s war effort against Russia.
His comments on Wednesday came as Republicans, some of whom express growing skepticism about sending so much aid to Ukraine, are set to take control of the US House of Representatives from Democrats on Jan. 3.
Some hardline Republicans have even called for an end to aid and an audit to see how the money was spent.
“Your money is not charity. This is an investment in global security and democracy, which we treat in the most responsible way, ”Zelensky said at a joint meeting of the US Senate and House of Representatives in English.
The world is too interconnected to allow any country to be left out and feel safe, Zelenskiy said, calling for bipartisan support.
Earlier, Zelenskiy, in his trademark olive green trousers and sweater, on his first foreign visit during the war, met with President Joe Biden, who called for support in 2023.
The United States also announced $1.85 billion in military aid to Ukraine, including a Patriot air defense system to help it fend off Russian missile attacks.
Zelenskiy said the Patriot system was an important step in building an air shield.
“This is the only way we can deprive the terrorist state of its main tool of terror — the ability to strike at our cities, at our energy,” Zelensky said at a press conference at the White House, standing next to Biden.
“We would like to get more patriots… we are at war,” Zelenskiy told reporters at the White House.
Russia says it launched a “special military operation” in Ukraine in February to rid it of nationalists and protect Russian-speaking communities. Ukraine and the West call Russia’s actions an unprovoked war of aggression.
Ukraine has been the target of repeated Russian strikes against its energy infrastructure in recent weeks, leaving millions without electricity and running water in the dead of freezing winter.
The TASS news agency, citing the Russian ambassador to the United States, said that Zelensky’s visit confirmed that US statements about not wanting a conflict with Russia were empty words.
The provocative actions of the United States in Ukraine led to an escalation, the consequences of which could not be imagined, TASS quotes the words of Anatoly Antonov.
Russia said last week that Patriot systems, if delivered to Ukraine, would be a legitimate target for Russian strikes.
Zelensky has joined a long list of world leaders to address joint sessions of the US Senate and House of Representatives. This tradition began in 1874 with the visit of Hawaiian King Kalakaua and included almost legendary military visits by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, kings, queens and one pope.
Members of the House of Representatives and senators from both parties jumped to their feet to applaud parts of Zelenskiy’s speech as he compared his country’s battle to World War II and even the American Revolution.
Referring to former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who served from 1933 to 1945, and efforts to liberate Europe from Nazi occupation, Zelenskiy addressed Americans who had gathered with their families for Christmas.
“Just like the brave American soldiers who held the line and fought back against Hitler’s troops during Christmas 1944, the brave Ukrainian soldiers are doing the same with Putin’s troops this Christmas,” he said.
Congress is on the cusp of approving an additional $44.9 billion in emergency military and economic aid, on top of the roughly $50 billion already sent to Ukraine this year, as Europe’s biggest land conflict since World War II drags on.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that Washington sees no sign that Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to participate in peacekeeping.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that an increase in the supply of Western weapons to Ukraine would lead to a “deepening” of the conflict.
Zelenskiy said a “just peace” with Russia meant no compromises on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Russian forces hit targets in the Zaporozhye region and advanced near the destroyed eastern frontline towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka, a hotbed of fighting in the Donetsk region, the Ukrainian military said Wednesday evening.
Petro Kuzyk, commander of the Ukrainian Svoboda battalion, while helping to defend Bakhmut, told the Espreso TV website: “There are seven to ten attempts to storm our positions every day. And the same at night.
“They will not be able to take Bakhmut, but if they take the heights above it, deploy their artillery and cut our logistical arteries, this will greatly complicate the situation,” Kuzyk said.
Putin has pledged to give his military everything it needs to fight the war that is nearing the end of the 10th month and backed a plan to increase the size of the armed forces by more than 30%.