Ukraine President Appeals For More Aid In US
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
WASHINGTON (Worthy News) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky used his first known trip abroad since Russia invaded his nation to urge U.S. Congress not to abandon his war-torn country.
In an emotionally charged speech just 12 days before Republicans take the House, Zelensky stressed that American aid would help Ukraine to secure a victory that would make the world safer.
And dressed in his familiar olive green sweatshirt (complete with a Ukrainian trident at the throat), cargo pants, and hard boots, Zelensky conveyed a message that the war in his homeland is far from over.
He spoke shortly after meeting President Joe Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, at the White House, where Biden on Wednesday promised him the deliveries of the formidable Patriot surface-to-air missile defense system.
Zelensky said the U.S. pledge was an essential step in creating an effective air shield as millions face a cold winter with much of Ukraine’s infrastructure destroyed by Russian misfiles and Iranian-made drones.
“This is the only way that we can deprive the terrorist state of its main instrument of terror – the possibility to hit our cities, our energy,” Zelenskiy told a White House news conference, standing next to Biden.
The Patriot system is “a defensive system; it’s not escalatory, it’s defensive,” Biden hastened to add. “We’d love not to have them used; just stop the attacks.”
MOST ADVANCED SYSTEM
The Patriot is considered one of the most advanced American air defense systems and offers protection against aircraft, cruise, and ballistic missiles, according to military experts.
It typically includes launchers along with radar and other support vehicles.
Yet critics fear that giving specific military support to Ukraine risks wider escalation, but Washington made clear this was not the basis for U.S. reluctance to send Patriot systems.
Experts say the United States has significantly fewer of them than its own operational analysis suggests are necessary to defend its forces in the Indo-Pacific.
Additionally, there is a continuing demand for missiles from existing users, from Sweden to Saudi Arabia. Realizing the international demands for the system Zelensky, a former actor, joked at the news conference: “After we get the Patriot, we’re going to signal that we want another Patriot.”
The Patriot is part of a new $1.85 billion aid package announced by Biden, which includes the Patriot system and other military support.
Speaking at the nearby U.S. Congress following his meeting with Biden and reporters at the White House, Zelensky noted that the United States, Europe, and Ukraine had together “defeated Russia in the battle for minds of the world.”
MORE AID DEMANDS
Zelensky was also clear about demanding more aid, saying that while he was grateful for commitments so far, it was not enough.
He also called on the U.S. to place further sanctions on Russia and bring the people behind the war to justice.
Observers noted that he used the words “bipartisan” repeatedly and “bicameral” at least once and sought to assure Republican and Democrat lawmakers that aid for Ukraine was worthwhile. He made clear that his nation was a responsible steward of assistance, despite international concern about corruption.
“Your money is not charity. It’s an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way,” he said.
Zelensky repeatedly referred to battles in World War Two as a reminder that what he suggested was at stake in global politics, not just Ukraine’s freedom.
He quoted late wartime, President Franklin D Roosevelt, saying: “The American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory,” adding, “I tell you: The Ukrainian people will win, too: absolutely.”
As he ended his speech, he thanked American families – the taxpayers funding US aid to Ukraine – saying, “Now, at this special Christmas time, I want to thank you, all of you. I thank every American family which cherishes the warmth of its home and wishes the same warmth to our people.”
MORE FIGHTING REPORTED
He spoke as at home news emerged of severe battles with a former Russian deputy prime minister and a pro-Moscow official reportedly injured when Ukrainian forces shelled the eastern city of Donetsk on Wednesday.
Donetsk, controlled by pro-Russia forces, is in the industrial Donbas region, the epicenter of recent bitter fighting between Russia and Ukraine.
One of the injured men was Dmitry Rogozin, a former Russian deputy prime minister, Russian media said.
Rogozin provides military advice to two occupied regions of Ukraine that Moscow claims as its own. An aide told the Tass news agency his life was not in danger.
Also hurt was Vitaly Khotsenko, the head of government of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, his press secretary told Russian news agencies.
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