Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke Wednesday before both houses of the U.S. Congress, an honor few world leaders have ever had, and thanked “all Americans” for the millions in military assistance they have provided.
Upon his arrival, Zelensky received thunderous applause from members of Congress and presented lawmakers with a Ukrainian flag autographed by front-line troops in Bakhmut, in Ukraine’s disputed Donetsk province, which was held behind him at the rostrum by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice Speaker Kamala Harris.
Zelensky predicted that next year would be a “turning point” in the conflict, “when Ukrainian courage and American determination must secure the future of our common freedom – the freedom of people who stand up for their values.”
He also urged members of the U.S. Congress to strengthen sanctions against Russia and “let the terrorists be responsible for aggression.”
In his speech, Zelensky noted that U.S. President Joe Biden presented Biden with a 10-point peace plan, but added that every member of Congress can help in implementation.
The Ukrainian leader made a whirlwind visit to Washington DC to ask the Biden administration for further assistance for his country, which is marking 300 days under Russian attack.
Although Zelensky had previously addressed Congress virtually after the Russian invasion began in February, this is the first time he has spoken in person before congressmen, at a time when the balance of the House of Representatives is shifting towards the Republicans, who are more reluctant to send military aid to his country.
In the afternoon, the Ukrainian leader was received at the White House by President Joe Biden, who announced a new $1.8 billion military aid package for Ukraine and the shipment of Patriot missiles, the most sophisticated US anti-aircraft defense system.
These were some of the most important phrases of his speech in front of the members of Congress:
1. “Ukraine did not fall, it is alive”.
In his opening message, the President of Ukraine addressed the members of Congress and assured that, despite all odds, Ukraine is still alive.
“Against all odds and pessimistic scenarios, Ukraine did not fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking.”
He also thanked Americans and “all those who value freedom and justice” for their efforts to help Ukraine.
2. “The USA and Ukraine are partners in this battle”.
Volodymyr Zelensky also stressed to the U.S. Congress that the U.S. and Ukraine are “allies” in the battle against Russia.
“Our two nations are allies in this battle. And next year will be a turning point, I know, the point at which Ukrainian courage and American determination must ensure the future of our common freedom. The freedom of people who stand up for their values,” he said.
3. “This war cannot be ignored or postponed”.
He noted that the world is too interconnected to ignore the war.
“This battle cannot be frozen or postponed. It cannot be ignored in the hope that the ocean or something else will provide protection,” he said.
“From the United States to China, from Europe to Latin America and from every country to Australia, the world is too interconnected and interdependent to allow anyone to stand on the sidelines and at the same time feel safe when such a battle continues.”
During his speech, Zelensky also denounced that Russia has found in Iran a partner in its “genocidal policy” and warned that if its aggression is not curbed, it will be a matter of time before another country is affected.
“Russia has found in Iran an ally to its genocidal policy. The hundreds and hundreds of deadly Iranian drones mandated to Russia became a threat to our critical infrastructure. This is how one terrorist found another.”
4. “Ukraine will never surrender”.
Zelensky assured that although the Russians “use everything” against Ukraine, the country “holds its lines and will never surrender.”
“Last year, 70,000 people lived in Bakhmut. Now there are only a few civilians left. Every inch of that land is soaked in blood. Donbas changed hands several times in fierce fighting, and even hand-to-hand fighting. But the Ukrainians of Donbas are standing”.
5. “Your money is not charity, it is an investment”.
Zelensky said U.S. support is vital to Ukraine’s efforts to push back Russia and thanked lawmakers and ordinary citizens for tens of billions of dollars in military and economic assistance over the past year.
He assured that the money Ukraine has received, “is not charity, it is an investment.”