Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky was greeted by rousing ovations by a joint session of U.S. Congress as he told lawmakers that Ukraine would “never surrender” in its war against Russia.
In his speech, running about 20 minutes and delivered in English, Zelensky compared Ukraine’s winter fight to that of American soldiers fighting Nazis in the Battle of the Bulge, which also took place in a cold December. “Ukraine holds its line and will never surrender,” he said.
In his speech Zelenskyy connected American history and American ideals to what is happening in Ukraine.
“It is just a matter of time when [Russia] will strike against your other allies … if we do not stop them now. We must do it,” he said.
The former comedian then presented House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a Ukrainian battle flag as a “symbol of our victory in this war.” Pelosi in turn presented him with the U.S. flag flown over the Capitol on Wednesday.
“Against all odds and doom and gloom scenarios, Ukraine didn’t fall,” Zelensky said. “Ukraine is alive and kicking.”
Before the speech, Zelensky appeared with Pelosi, who compared his speech to Congress to that of Winston Churchill in 1941, addressing lawmakers and the country after the shock of Pearl Harbor and U.S. entrance into the war. Pelosi noted that her father, Thomas D’Alesandro, was a congressman at the time and was present for Churchill’s address.
As he read from his printed speech, Zelensky talked about how many Ukrainians would have a candlelit Christmas because of Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure.
“we will celebrate Christmas, and even if there is no electricity, the light of our faith in ourselves will not be put out.”
Zelensky’s speech came as Congress is considering a $1.7 trillion spending bill that includes $45 billion in aid for Ukraine. House Republicans, led by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, oppose the entire spending package, even though it has been expected to receive bipartisan support in the Senate. There also has been some wavering among McCarthy and others as to how long the U.S. will commit to support Ukraine.
McCarthy, running for House speaker when the GOP gains control of Congress next month, attended Zelensky’s speech, but was not present when Zelensky toured part of the Capitol along with Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Sensing a possible decline in interest in support for Ukraine in the next Congress, Zelensky said;
“Your money is not charity. It is an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.” He told the lawmakers that it was in “your power” to bring “to justice everyone who started this unprovoked and criminal war.”
Zelensky also made a reference to a 10-point peace proposal and a summit with Russia, but he did not offer details and made clear that Ukraine had to win the war.
Watch the video below