What Zelenskyy got from Washington and how the trip was organized
Outcome of Zelenskyy’s visit to Washington
Results of Zelenskyy’s visit to Washington. Drawn from material at “Novaya Gazeta. Europe” and BBC
The President of Ukraine’s trip to the United States and speech in Congress were unexpected and considered a triumph. He has been compared to Churchill, and Ukraine will receive even more assistance to deal with Russian military aggression. Washington also promised deliveries of the Patriot system, which the Ukrainian authorities have been requesting for some time.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy left Ukraine for the first time since the beginning of the war; the trip was planned in secret. The night before the departure, on December 20, Zelenskyy arrived at the front line and the soldiers defending Bakhmut gave him a battle flag and asked him to hand it on to the US Congress. Zelenskyy did not confirm at the time that he was flying to Washington.
A day before the visit, Speaker of Congress Nancy Pelosi sent an unusual letter to all House legislators announcing a “special session” that would close the current Congress and asking them to attend Wednesday night’s session in person, though they had the opportunity to vote remotely.
For Pelosi herself, this session ends her political career at the state level. On January 3 the new Congress will begin.
Ukraine will receive Patriot, but not long-range missiles
For the meeting Joseph Biden put on a yellow and blue tie, while Zelenskyy was in military garb. The Ukrainian president called his visit “historic” and brought the American president a gift — a medal for military prowess.
After two hours of negotiations, the Biden administration announced a new $1.85 billion aid package for Ukraine.
- It includes, for the first time, a Patriot anti-missile battery, and equipment for converting unguided munitions into precision-guided missiles.
- Joint Direct Attack ammunition kits will improve the accuracy of such bombs using global positioning systems.
- The aid also includes artillery, mortar shells, and rockets for launchers of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System — known as HIMARS.
Including humanitarian aid the total package is $2.2 billion, Biden said at a final joint press conference. “The American people have been with you every step of the way, and we will be with you for as long as it takes,” he said.
The new aid, however, does not include the planes, tanks and long-range tactical missile system that Kyiv has long been asking for in an effort to push Russian troops out of Ukraine’s south and east.
During a press conference, a Ukrainian journalist reminded Biden how he opposed the supply of Patriot missiles at the beginning of the war, and now, ten months later, Washington is taking this step. “Isn’t it better for the US to provide Kyiv with everything it needs right away so as not to waste time?” she asked.
Biden commented that more powerful weapons could escalate the conflict and risk spreading war in Europe.
“The idea that we will give Ukraine military equipment that is fundamentally different from what is already there can lead to a split in NATO, even the collapse of the European Union and the rest of the world,” the President said.
Biden said Russia should not view the decision to supply Patriot missile systems as an escalation because they are defensive weapons.
A briefing by Biden administration officials ahead of Zelenskiy’s visit also stated: “Not tomorrow, not next month, not next year, the United States is not sending troops to Ukraine to directly fight the Russians. Instead, Washington is sending billions — now military equipment and supplies — to help Ukrainians defend themselves. We do not seek direct war with Russia. And nothing will change.”
American experts warn that it will take time to train Ukrainian troops on the Patriot battery, and it is unlikely that it will be deployed to Ukraine before spring. The training is expected to take place in Germany.
Former NATO Commander-in-Chief Allied Forces Europe Wesley Clark said Zelenskiy’s trip marks a critical moment:
“The fate of the war, which Ukraine cannot win without increased US support, may be decided before Russia can regroup its troops.”
“We will never give up!” – Zelenskyy’s speech
Speaking before both houses of Congress, Zelenskyy echoed Churchill’s famous words: “We will never surrender!” He was repeatedly interrupted by applause and standing ovations.
Zelenskyy’s visit to Washington the night before Christmas Eve has been compared by many to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s visit to America on Christmas Day 1941, a few days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. “Give us weapons and we will do the rest ourselves,” Churchill said, speaking before the two houses of Congress.
Zelenskyy thanked American politicians and citizens of the country for their support and said:
“Your money is not charity. This is an investment in defense of freedom and democracy.”
Then he gave Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi the battle banner of the defenders of Bakhmut.
Exceptional secrecy: how Zelenskyy went to the USA
Extraordinary security measures were taken to bring Zelenskyy from Ukraine to the American capital. This indicates how much both countries value their relationship, the BBC writes.
The threat of Russian missiles makes flying over Ukraine too dangerous, so Zelenskyy appears to have traveled by train clandestinely through Ukraine to Poland, where he was spotted at a train station in the border town of Przemysl early Wednesday morning.
In Poland, he was immediately picked up by a US Air Force aircraft reportedly escorted by a NATO reconnaissance aircraft and an F-15 fighter jet.
Call for an audit into how Ukraine spends US aid
Following the November 2022 Congressional elections, control of the House of Representatives, which determines financial matters, went to the Republican Party, which is closely associated with former President Donald Trump. It is expected that some of these lawmakers in the new Congress will resist increased spending on aid to Ukraine.
They have already called for a full audit of how Washington and Kyiv have spent the money. California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who is running for Speaker, said:
“Republicans will not issue a ‘blank check’ to Ukraine, i.e. a pre-signed check on which you can write any number.”
According to this group of lawmakers, the $52 billion already allocated to Ukraine should instead have been spent on strengthening the southern border of the United States against influxes of immigrants and on other internal problems of the country.
But other Republicans were in favor of providing additional assistance to Ukraine, as it is, they say, in the strategic interests of the United States.
“Helping our friends in Eastern Europe win this war is a direct investment in reducing Putin’s future ability to threaten America, threaten our allies and challenge our core interests,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
Members of the new Congress will have to approve an additional $44.9 billion for Ukraine and NATO allies in the fiscal year 2023 spending bill.