By Dave DeCamp / Antiwar.com
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday met with President Biden and addressed Congress during his trip to Washington DC, which marked his first foreign visit since Russia invaded on February 24.
In his address to Congress, Zelensky thanked the chamber and the US for its support but mentioned that Ukraine doesn’t have “enough” artillery. His visit came after Congress unveiled a $1.7 trillion omnibus bill that includes another $45 billion in Ukraine aid, which will bring total US spending on the war to about $112 billion.
“We have artillery, yes. Thank you. We have it. Is it enough? Honestly, not really,” he said. Ahead of his visit, Zelensky said in a video recorded in Bakhmut that he would tell Congress that Ukraine is “grateful for their support, but it is not enough. It is a hint — it is not enough.”
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Zelensky also suggested that the US should give Ukraine more advanced military equipment that the Biden administration has yet to provide. “Ukrainian soldiers can perfectly operate American tanks and planes themselves,” he said.
The Ukrainian leader portrayed Russia as a global threat that must be stopped and promised there would be a Ukrainian “victory.” Zelensky insisted that US support for Ukraine is not “charity” but an “investment” in “global security and democracy.”
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), one of the few members of Congress against arming Ukraine, agreed that aid to Ukraine wasn’t charity. “It is not charity. Charity would be given freely. The American taxpayers have been conscripted into making welfare payments to this foreign government,” Massie wrote on Twitter.
Earlier in the day, Zelensky held a joint press conference with President Biden after a closed-door meeting. Biden said that Zelensky is open to pursuing a “just peace,” signaling the Ukrainian leader was open to negotiations with Moscow. But later, when asked what his vision of a “just peace” would be, Zelensky said it means no compromises for Kyiv.
“For me, as a 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. “There can’t be any just peace in the war that was imposed on us by these … inhumans, I would say.”
Zelensky reiterated that he’d put forward a peace proposal, but it involves Russian forces withdrawing from the territory it has captured, which is a non-starter for Moscow. Russian officials insist they will never leave the territories they have annexed, and at this point in the war, prospects for a negotiated solution are slim.
The US announced a new massive $1.85 billion aid package for Ukraine while Zelensky was in DC, including for the first time a Patriot air defense missile system. Before Zelensky’s arrival, one of his aides said the Ukrainian leader would be seeking “weapons, weapons, and more weapons.”