Ukraine’s Zelenskyy’s address to Congress in Washington

Washington — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is addressing a joint meeting of Congress Wednesday night as part of his first trip outside Ukraine since Russia launched its assault on his country in February. 

Flying drone with camera

The trip comes as Congress considers a massive government funding bill that includes $45 billion for Ukraine aid. The Ukrainian president addressed Congress virtually in March, urging members to continue their support for Ukraine’s war effort.

A defiant Zelenskyy received a standing ovation and lengthy applause from both Houses of Congress. “Ukraine is alive and kicking,” he said, saying the “Russian tyranny has lost control over us.” 

He called for “Ukrainian courage and American resolve” that will “guarantee the future of our common freedom.”

Ahead of the speech, Zelenskyy met with President Joe Biden at the White House. They held a joint press conference, where Mr. Biden said said he would continue to support Ukraine “as long as it takes,” and denounced Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure as the brutal winter cold sets in.

“We should be clear about what Russia is doing — it is purposefully attacking Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, destroying the systems that provide heat and light to the Ukrainian people during the coldest, darkest part of the year. Russia is using winter as a weapon,” Mr. Biden said, standing next to Zelenskyy in the White House East Room. “It’s important for the American people and for the world to hear directly from you, Mr. President, about Ukraine’s fight and the need to continue to stand together through 2023.”

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses a joint meeting of Congress
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Dec. 21, 2022. Behind him, Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., right, listen.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Asked what message he had for the American people, Zelenskyy emphasized that “we have the same values.”

“We really fight for our common victory against this tyranny. And that is real life. And we will win. And I really want [to] win together. Not want — I am sure,” said Zelenskyy, who alternated between speaking in English and Ukrainian.

Zelenskyy’s surprise trip was announced overnight by the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

All current members of Congress were invited to attend the speech on the House floor.  The House Sergeant at Arms noted in a memo that security would be particularly tight, and access to the Capitol was restricted. 

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