Day 302: takeaways from Zelenskyi’s visit to U.S., Iran’s threats

CNN draws conclusions on Zelenskyi’s visit to U.S.

Volodymyr Zelenskyi’s historic visit to the U.S. was heavy with symbolism, CNN said, outlining five takeaways from Zelenskyi’s meeting with Biden and his address to the U.S. Congress.

Biden and Zelensky tried to figure out how the war ends. Ukraine will not accept compromises on sovereignty and territorial integrity, Zelenskyi said. He also presented a 10-point peace formula. For his part, Biden said it was up to Zelensky to “decide how he wants to the war to end,” a long-held view that leaves plenty of questions unanswered.

Zelenskyi shows he knows his audience. He hand-delivered a Ukrainian battle flag from Bakhmut at an emotional peak of his speech in the House chamber, putting the fate of millions of Ukrainians in the hands of American lawmakers, taxpayers and families at a time when there is growing skepticism among the incoming Republican House majority about the cost of U.S. involvement.

The U.S. will send a Patriot surface-to-air missile system to Ukraine. In weighing a visit, Zelenskyi suggested to advisers he did not want to travel to Washington had there not been a significant development in the bilateral relationship with the United States. Zelenskyi viewed the U.S. decision to send a Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine as a major shift in the relationship between the two allies.

Biden and Zelenskyi demonstrated that they maintain a united front, following months of complicated talks and Ukraine’s strive to get more aid.

As the war in Ukraine is entering a new phase, leaders around the world are confronting the bitter fallout of Russia’s invasion. In Washington, Republicans poised to take control of Congress have made clear they won’t rubber stamp each of Biden’s requests for Ukraine assistance – though fears funding will dry up completely appear unfounded, CNN says.

Iran threatens Zelenskyi over speech to Congress

Spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry Nasser Kanaani criticized Ukrainian President Zelenskyi over comments he made to the U.S. Congress on Iran’s aid to Russia in its war against Ukraine.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has not supplied any military hardware to any side for use in the Ukraine war,” Kanaani said in a statement released Thursday. “Iran has always respected the territorial integrity of all countries including Ukraine,” he added.

“Mr. Zelenskyi had better know that Iran’s strategic patience over such unfounded accusations is not endless,” the spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry said. Kanaani also advised Zelenskyi “to draw a lesson from the fate of some other political leaders who contented themselves with the US support.”

In his address to the U.S. Congress, Zelenskyi mentioned Iran’s backing of Russia. “When Russia cannot reach our cities by its artillery, it tries to destroy them with missile attacks,” he said. “More than that, Russia found an ally in its genocidal policy – Iran.”

“Iranian deadly drones, sent to Russia in hundreds, became a threat to our critical infrastructure,” he continued. “That is how one terrorist has found the other. It is just a matter of time – when they will strike against your other allies, if we do not stop them now.”

In the past months, Russia has extensively used Iranian-made Shahed suicide drones, renaming them as “Geran” (Geranium). Russia has looked to Iran to supply more weapons, including missiles. Iran also sent military trainers to Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory, some reports said.

Ukraine could stabilize power grid by summer, if there are no further attacks, Energy Minister says

If there are no further attacks, Ukraine will stabilize its energy system by summer, Ukraine’s Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko told Forbes Ukraine. 

Ukraine is facing a shortage of power generating capacity. The situation is complicated, the minister said, declining to give an exact number.

On Monday, December 19, Russia’s attacks on Kyiv caused serious damage.

“Kyiv is facing the most difficult situation, but things are gradually improving. Today, more capacity is available compared to yesterday,” he explained. Kyiv was not cut off from the country’s electricity grid. That’s an integrated energy system, the minister said.

MH17 downing over Ukraine: justice at last. Ukraine in Flames #287 

Expert at Ukrainian Legal Advisory Group Arie Mora, Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Ukrainian Bar Association on International Law, Senior Lawyer at Jeantet Ukraine Anna Bukvych, and Head of Institute of World Policy Yevhen Mahda discuss the court decision over the MH17 case in the Netherlands.