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Ukraine is alive and kicking: Zelensky tells US Congress

December 22, 2022 09:40 IST

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday addressed members of the United States Congress saying, "Against all odds, and doom and gloom, Ukraine did not fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking."

IMAGE: Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the US Congress as US Vice President Kamala Harris and US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hold the Ukrainian flag at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on December 21, 2022. Photograph: ANI

To a standing ovation on his first foreign trip since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, he said, "It's a great honour to be at the US Congress to speak to you, and all Americans. Against all odds, and doom and gloom, Ukraine did not fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking. We have no fear," he says, adding that Ukraine has won the first phase of the invasion. "The Russian tyranny has lost control over us."

Zelenskyy, 44, met President Biden in the Oval Office and jointly addressed a press conference at the White House on Wednesday.

Zelenskyy emphasised that the world is too interconnected to ignore Russia's war in Ukraine during his address to Congress.

"This battle cannot be frozen or postponed. It cannot be ignored, hoping that the ocean or something else will provide protection," he said.

"From the United States to China, from Europe to Latin America, and from every country to Australia, the world is too interconnected and interdependent to allow someone to stay aside and simultaneously feel safe when such a battle continues," he said.


He also highlighted the shared values of Ukraine and the United States.

"Our two nations are allies in this battle. And next year will be a turning point, I know it when Ukrainian courage and American resolve must guarantee the future of our common freedom. The freedom of people who stand for their values," he said.

Zelenskyy gave a message of hope for the Ukrainian people during his address to the Congress, saying the Russians "use everything" against cities such as Bakhmut but Ukraine "never surrenders".

The Russians "have been taking the city of 70,000 people day and night, but Bakhmut stands," Zelenskyy said to a roaring applause.

"Last year, 70,000 people lived there in Bakhmut... Now only a few civilians stay. Every inch of that land is soaked in blood... Donbas changed hands several times in fierce combat and even hand-fighting. But the Ukrainian Donbas stands," he said, as members gave him a standing ovation.

"Russians use everything, everything they have against Bakhmut and other of our beautiful cities, the occupiers have a significant advantage in artillery. They have an advantage in ammunition. They have much more missiles and planes than we ever had. It's true. But our defence forces stand," he said.

More than 300 days into the war, soldiers in Ukraine are defending their country, but they need more weapons to win on the battlefield, Zelenskyy told the Congress.

"Here, the front line, the tyranny -- which has no lack of cruelty against the lives of free people -- and your support is crucial not just to stand in such fight but to get to the turning point to win on the battlefield," he said.

"We have artillery, yes, thank you. It enough? Honestly, not really," he said.

IMAGE: Zelensky offers the Ukrainian flag to Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi . Photograph: Courtesy @SpeakerPelosi/Twitter

Zelensky said Ukraine is fighting for its "independence and freedom" but called for the United States' continued support to achieve those goals.

"Ukraine holds its lines and will never surrender," he said.

Earlier, US President Joe Biden assured continued support to Ukraine in a news conference alongside Zelenskyy, announcing the US will send Kyiv a Patriot missile defence system as part of an additional USD 1.8 billion package of assistance.

Zelenskyy thanked Americans for their support and reiterated that air defence systems are crucial to countering Russian attacks.

Earlier on Wednesday, Biden welcomed Zelenskyy to the Oval Office, saying the US and Ukraine would continue to project a “united defence” as Russia wages a “brutal assault on Ukraine's right to exist as a nation.”

Zelenskyy, on his first known trip outside his country since Russia invaded in February, said he wanted to visit earlier and his visit now showed the “situation is under control, because of your support.”

He said the people of Ukraine will also go through their war of independence and freedom with dignity and success.

“We'll celebrate Christmas. And even if there is no electricity, the light of our faith in ourselves will not be put out,” he said.

“If Russian missiles attack us, we'll do our best to protect ourselves. If they attack us with Iranian drones and our people will have to go to bomb shelters on Christmas Eve, Ukrainians will still sit down at the equality table and cheer up each other. And we don't have to know everyone's wish as we know that all of us, millions of Ukrainians, wish the same victory,” he explained.

Zelenskyy said the battle is not only for the life, freedom and security of Ukrainians, or any other nation which Russia attempts to conquer.

“This struggle will define in what world our children and grandchildren will live, and then their children and grandchildren.

It will define whether it will be a democracy of Ukrainians and for Americans, for all,” he added.

Zelenskyy came to the US after making a daring trip on Tuesday to the front line of the ongoing conflict, to the city of Bakhmut in Ukraine's contested Donetsk province.

Source: ANI