Day 301: Zelenskyi meets with Biden, addresses Congress in U.S. visit

Remarks by President Zelenskyi and President Biden in joint press conference

There can be no compromises as to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in achieving a just peace for the country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi said.

“For all of us, just peace is different. For me as the president, just peace is no compromises as to the sovereignty, freedom and territorial integrity of my country. The payback for all the damages inflicted by Russian aggression,” he said.

The idea of a “just peace” is hard to imagine for Ukrainian parents who have lost children amid Russia’s invasion of their country. They live by revenge.

As long as the war lasts, “there will be more parents who live for the sake of vengeance or revenge, and I know a lot of people by that. There can’t be any just peace in the war that was imposed to us by these inhumans,” Zelenskyi said.

Russia will not win the war, U.S. President Joe Biden said in a joint news conference after the meeting wrapped up. But there is no substitute for talks with Putin, he added. 

“All politics is personal. It’s all about looking someone in the eye,” the U.S. President said. “I don’t think there’s any substitute for sitting down face-to-face with a friend or a foe and looking them in the eye.”  

Putin is increasingly going after civilian targets, Biden said. A sign that Putin is going to fail, he added.

“This guy [Putin] is going to fail. (…) And so, he’s failed in the past. And it was very important for him and everyone else to see that President Zelenskyi and I are united, two countries together, to make sure he cannot succeed,” Biden said.

Top five highlights from Zelenskyi’s address to U.S. Congress

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi received multiple standing ovations while addressing the U.S. Congress. The speech brought the members of Congress to their feet 21 times.

Zelenskyi thanked the American people for their steadfast support and outlined Ukraine’s request for further aid. He also spoke of what life in Ukraine is under Russia’s invasion.

  1. Zelenskyi called for continued financial support from the U.S., telling the U.S. Congress: “Your money is not charity. It’s an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.”   
  1. He called on the Congress to tighten the sanctions on Russia to “let the terrorist state be held responsible for its terror and aggression”. He said U.S. President Joe Biden supported a 10-point peace formula that he proposed. Each member of the Congress can help with its implementation, he added.
  1. The Russians “threw everything” against the places like Bakhmut, President Zelenskyi said. Yet Ukraine “holds its lines and will never surrender,” he stressed. “Last year 70,000 people lived there in Bakhmut and now only few civilians stay. Every inch of that land is soaked in blood. (…) Trenches in the Donbas change hands several times a day in fierce combat and even hand fighting. But the Ukrainian Donbas stands,” the President said.
  1. The Ukrainian people will celebrate Christmas despite the horrors of war. “Even if there is no electricity, the light of our faith in ourselves will not be put out,” Zelenskyi said.
  1. Ukraine will “win through to absolute victory”, the Ukrainian President said, invoking Franklin D. Roosevelt’s quote. “Ukraine is alive and kicking,” he said, ending his address.

President Zelenskyi gave a Ukraine battle flag from the Bakhmut defenders to the U.S. Congress. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gifted Zelensky an American flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol.

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