‘You Will Never Stand Alone" Biden Tells Zelenskyy And Ukrainians
U.S. President Joe Biden’s message to his surprise White House guest President Volodymyr Zelensky and to all Ukrainians on Wednesday boiled down to a simple message: “You will never stand alone.”
“We understand in our bones that Ukraine’s fight is part of something much bigger,” Biden said during a historic wartime press conference with Zelenskyy, TURAN's Washington correspondent reports from the White House.
Biden pledged to stand with Ukraine for “as long as it takes”, vowing to help Kyiv win on the battlefield before any talks could take place with Moscow.
He also praised Ukraine’s successes, saying that, it has “won the battle of Kyiv, won the battle Kherson, won the battle of Kharkiv, defied Russia’s expectation at every single turn” and praised Zelensky for being open to “pursuing peace, a just peace.”
The U.S president's remarks underscored a view that Washington's assistance for Ukraine must continue for an undetermined amount of time into the future.
“Russia is using winter as a weapon,” Biden said. “Freezing people, starving people, cutting them off from one another. It’s the latest example of the outrageous atrocities the Russians are committing against innocent Ukrainian civilians, children and their families.”
The White House meeting came amid the Biden administration’s latest bulk of assistance to Ukraine, most notably in the form of an additional $2 billion in security and humanitarian aid that includes a Patriot missile battery, an advanced aerial defense system to help Ukraine against Russia’s targeted attacks on its energy and electricity infrastructure.
Zelensky, who was wearing his signature green long-sleeve shirt, spoke to the historic nature of his visit to Washington, his first trip outside of Ukraine since Russia launched a full scale invasion in February, and said the main mission of his trip was to “strengthen Ukraine.”
He echoed Biden's remarks that a “just peace” for Ukraine is about ensuring all of the country’s territory was liberated — and secure — from Russia.
“For me, as a president, just peace is no compromise as to the sovereignty, freedom, territorial integrity of my country, payback for all the damages inflicted by Russian aggression,” he said.
Zelenskyy’s visit came after 300 days of Russia’s invasion, and as Biden said, “the 300th day of the Ukrainian people showing Russia and the world their steel backbone, their love of country and their unbreakable determination.”
What does Ukraine want now that the U.S. has agreed to send its first Patriot air defense system? More Patriots, Zelenskyy joked.
Patriot systems are a key step to secure Ukraine’s air space, he added. “That’s the only way we would be able to deprive the terrorist country and their terror attack to strike our energy sector, our people and our infrastructure."
Zelenskyy later received loud applause from the U.S. Congress as he compared Ukraine’s fight for its survival to U.S. battles from World War II and the American Revolution. He compared Ukraine’s ongoing defensive stand against Russian troops in the east of the country around Bakhmut to American troops’ successful defense against German troops in the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. Both battles raged through the Christmas season.
He also presented House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Vice President Kamala Harris with a unique gift: A flag from the city that has become the spiritual epicenter of Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion.
“When I was in Bakhmut yesterday, our heroes gave me the battle flag, the flag of those who defend Ukraine, Europe and the world at the cost of their lives,” he said. “They asked me to bring this flag to you, to the U.S. Congress, to members of the House of Representatives and Senators whose decisions can save millions of people.
The timing of Zelenskyy's visit to the Congress was no accident: Both chambers of Congress are set to vote in the coming days on a federal funding bill that contains $44.9 billion in military and economic aid for Ukraine.
He also made a direct appeal to Americans: “I hope my words of respect and gratitude resonate in each American heart,” Zelensky said. “Our two nations are allies in this battle, and next year will be a turning point. I know it — the point when Ukrainian courage and American resolve must guarantee the future of our common freedom,” he said, declaring that "the Russian tyranny has lost control over us"
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