NewsBiden promises Zelensky that the United States will help...

Biden promises Zelensky that the United States will help Ukraine “as long as it takes”

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The presidents of the United States and Ukraine, Joe Biden and Volodimir Zelensky, promised again and again this Wednesday in Washington that their destinies would remain united for the duration of the war. “You can count on the full support of this country for as long as it takes. Americans across the board, Democrats and Republicans alike, understand deep down that the Ukraine fight is part of something much bigger,” Biden told Zelensky in a joint White House appearance in the afternoon.

Later, the host put numbers to that support in a room in the east wing, decorated for Christmas and packed with the press: an additional military assistance package for kyiv of 1,850 million dollars (1,743 million euros), to which he added 374 millions in humanitarian aid. Beyond the money, the most symbolic commitment is the shipment of a battery of long-range Patriot missiles, a weapon with which the United States has so far resisted contributing to Ukraine’s defensive efforts against the Kremlin’s aggression, despite to the fact that Zelenski insistently claimed it to face the Russian attacks. And he will continue to do so, he warned during his visit to Washington, his first trip abroad since the February start of the war. “When we have those Patriots in place we will let President Biden know that…we need more Patriots,” Zelenski added, drawing nervous laughter from those in attendance. “We are at war, I am very sorry,” Zelensky added. “They will help us create a safe airspace; they will be the only way to stop Russia’s terrorist aggression. We need that help to survive this winter.”

To the questions of previously chosen journalists, two Americans and two Ukrainians, Zelenski declared: “I would say to the American people that we share values ​​and that I wish them peace. That’s the main thing, you understand it only when the war comes to your country, when terrorists from Russia come to your house. And I want you to see your children alive and grown, to see them go to college.” He also explained what for him would be a “just peace”: “The one that does not imply any compromise in terms of the sovereignty, freedom and territorial integrity of my country, and that entails the payment of all the damages inflicted by the Russian aggression”.

Joe Biden, accompanied by the first lady of the United States, Jill Biden, had received his Ukrainian counterpart just after two in the afternoon, Eastern time, on a beautiful winter day. Both greeted each other with the south facade of The White House in the background: Zelenski, dressed in his battle green uniform, and Biden, in a suit. Dozens of journalists, urgently accredited, were waiting for them in the open air, amid enormous expectation. The visit, which was known less than 24 hours in advance, has ignited the imagination of lovers of historical analogies, who have remembered the trip, this month 81 years ago, of another “president at war.” Winston Churchill made a point of spending Christmas with the Roosevelts here after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

After the brief greeting, both leaders went to the Oval Office, where Biden told Zelenski that the Ukrainian people “inspire the world”, he told him that he also considered him “the man of the year”, referring to the cover of the summary number of 2022 that Time magazine recently dedicated to him, and accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of “using winter as a weapon”, referring to the latest Kremlin military strategy of using cold as a battering ram. In the press conference after the meeting, the US president returned to that idea: “He is freezing people, starving them, isolating them from each other. It is the latest example of the outrageous atrocities that Russian forces are committing against innocent Ukrainian civilians, children and their families.”

In the previous bilateral meeting, Zelenski, who traveled by train to the border with Poland to catch the plane to Washington, replied in English that it was a “great honor” to be in the Oval Office and thanked him for his help and that of ” the Americans”. He also wanted to express “all the appreciation”. “From my heart and that of all my compatriots.” And he presented her with a medal of honor given to her by a captain on Tuesday at the Bakhmut front, a town in the Donetsk region of Donbas where the heaviest fighting is being fought right now against the Russian army. “He is a real hero,” Zelenski said, “and he asked me to pass this award on to President Biden. He said that you would understand. The recipient of the gift responded that it was “undeserved.”

In the afternoon, the Ukrainian president was scheduled to go to the Capitol to address Congress in a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The congressmen are studying these days, before the Democrats lose the majority of the Upper House, the approval of an omnibus law with dozens of budgetary provisions, among which is financial assistance to Ukraine of almost 45,000 million dollars (42,400 million of euros).

“Patriot missiles will be a critical asset in defending the Ukrainian people from Russia’s barbaric attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. We will train the Ukrainian forces on how to use them. This will take some time,” a senior White House official explained on Tuesday night in a call with reporters in Washington, who asked to remain anonymous. Unlike smaller defense systems, the Patriots require the help of dozens of operators to make them work effectively. A battery includes a radar, computers, generators and a control station, as well as eight mini-launchers with four missiles.

It was not clear how long this training will take, although it is estimated that it could last for half a year, nor how this delay may affect the efforts of the Ukrainian army at a time of increasing intensity in the Russian offensive and in the middle of a terrifying winter. The official added that the US intention is to continue “prioritizing other forms of air defense support as well, including NASAMS, HAWK [missiles], stingers, and anti-drone systems.” “It will take a while until they can be used on the front lines, but [the Patriots] will be essential in the fight of their people,” Biden told Zelenski during their joint appearance before the press, in which both showed great harmony and there was even space for jokes, before ruling out that the missile shipment is “an escalation.” “It’s a simple act of defense.”

The news of the visit was reported by the US media late on Tuesday afternoon. The official confirmation was made to wait. In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Zelensky, 44, posted the following message on his Twitter account: “[I am] on my way to the United States to build Ukraine’s resilience and defense capabilities. In particular, @POTUS [username on President Biden’s social network] and I will discuss cooperation between Ukraine and the United States. I will also have a speech in Congress and a series of bilateral meetings.” With these meetings, the Ukrainian leader was referring to the appointments he has set with the leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties at the Capitol. According to sources at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, Parliament at the Capitol was scheduled to last about 20 minutes. It was also assumed that it would load references to World War II.

On my way to the US to strengthen resilience and defense capabilities of 🇺🇦. In particular, @POTUS and I will discuss cooperation between 🇺🇦 and 🇺🇸. I will also have a speech at the Congress and a number of bilateral meetings.

In what seemed like proof that the trip was a coordinated transatlantic effort that was watered down by the media, at the same time as Zelensky’s Twitter announcement the White House sent out a statement signed by press secretary Karine Jean- Pierre, in which he linked the invitation to Biden’s desire to “underscore America’s enduring commitment to Ukraine.” The fact that Zelensky is going to address both chambers is proof, for Jean-Pierre, of a “strong bipartisan support”, which remains “300 days after [they met this Tuesday]” from the start of the “brutal assault” From Russia.

So far, Democrats and Republicans have been in general in favor of assisting kyiv: in these almost 10 months they have approved aid worth 65,000 million dollars. But lately, that compact block has begun to crack amid signs of impatience from the conservative camp.

One of those signals was issued by California Republican Kevin McCarthy, who is emerging as the new speaker of the House of Representatives to replace the veteran Nancy Pelosi, who has already announced her withdrawal from the front line of politics. McCarthy said in an interview with the digital Punchbowl News (precisely, the medium that first announced the news of Zelenski’s visit): “I think that in the midst of the looming recession, people are not willing to write a blank check to Ukraine. They just won’t… It’s not a free blank check.” The Republican criticized that, in his opinion, Biden neglects the crisis on the border with Mexico to focus his efforts on curbing Putin’s expansionist desires. “Ukraine is important, but at the same time it can’t be the only thing they do and it can’t be a blank check.”

All in all, the senior official wanted, in his call with journalists from Washington, to unlink the Ukrainian leader’s high-risk trip to the United States from an attempt to pressure Republicans in person to vote in favor of the new budget item in the Congress. “This is not about sending a message to a specific political party, it is about sending a message to Putin and making it clear to the world that the United States will be there for Ukraine for as long as it takes,” said that source, who detailed that the idea of ​​the high-risk trip came up in a call between Biden and Zelensky on December 11, but it did not materialize until last Sunday. The negotiations were carried out in extreme secrecy that could not be maintained until the end.

Zelenski already addressed members of the Capitol last March, in a video message in which he invoked the great collective traumas of the United States, the attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11 and the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II. World Cup, to ask for more military aid. The Ukrainian president had already met personally with Biden at the White House on September 1, 2021. Since then, both leaders have had dozens of telephone conversations.

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