Washington: Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy told cheering U.S. legislators during a defiant wartime visit to the nation’s capital on Wednesday that against all odds his country still stands, thanking Americans for helping to fund the war effort with money that is “not charity,” but an “investment” in global security and democracy.
The whirlwind stop in Washington — his first known trip outside his country since Russia invaded in February — was aimed at reinvigorating support for his country in the U.S. and around the world at a time when there is concern that allies are growing weary of the costly war and its disruption to global food and energy supplies.
Zelenskyy called the tens of billions of dollars in U.S. military and economic assistance provided over the past year vital to Ukraine’s efforts to beat back Russia and appealed for even more in the future.
“Your money is not charity,” he sought to reassure both those in the room and those watching at home. “It’s an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.”
Just before his arrival, the U.S. announced a new $1.8 billion military aid package, including for the first time Patriot surface-to-air missiles. And Congress planned to vote this week on a fresh spending package that includes about $45 billion in additional emergency assistance to Ukraine.
The speech to Congress came after President Joe Biden hosted Zelenskyy in the Oval Office for strategy consultations, saying the U.S. and Ukraine would maintain their “united defense” as Russia wages a “brutal assault on Ukraine’s right to exist as a nation.” Biden pledged to help bring about a “just peace.”
The highly sensitive trip came after 10 months of a brutal war that has seen tens of thousands of casualties on both sides and devastation for Ukrainian civilians.
Zelenskyy spent less than 10 hours in Washington before beginning the journey back to Ukraine.