Zelensky demands ‘terrorist’ Russia be held accountable; thanks Biden for additional $45B
With President Joe Biden by his side, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has demanded that the “terrorist country” of Russia be held accountable for its invasion of Ukraine and thanked the U.S. government for the expected $45 billion in additional aid.
At a press conference held Wednesday at the White House, Zelensky addressed a group of reporters from both the United States and Ukraine, using an English interpreter for most of his comments.
Zelensky thanked “the people of America” because they “do so much for Ukraine” and Biden for his “candid support” of the Eastern European nation, which marked 300 days since the Russian invasion began.
“I want to thank the Congress for bipartisan, bicameral support and I am looking forward to good meetings with the members of the Congress,” added Zelensky, as rendered by an interpreter.
During his opening remarks, Biden touted an omnibus bill that Congress is expected to pass soon, which will include approximately $45 billion in aid for Ukraine in its ongoing fight against Russia.
Biden also announced the next tranche of military aid to Ukraine, which will be $1.85 billion and include “direct transfers of equipment,” “contracts to supply ammunition” for various weapons like tanks and rocket launchers, and a battery of Patriot missiles.
“It’s going to take some time to complete the necessary training, but the Patriot battery will be another critical asset for Ukraine as it defends itself from Russian aggression,” Biden said.
Zelensky thanked Biden for the $45 billion in aid, telling the president that “this is a big assistance” and also that “I hope that the Congress will approve this financial assistance for our country.”
Zelensky considered the Patriot Missiles to be “a very important step to create a secure air space for Ukraine, and that’s the only way we would be able to deprive the terrorist country and their terror attacks to strike our energy center, our people and our infrastructure.”
The Ukrainian president believes the $45 billion will also help “strengthen world security” and help to counter “the terror of Russia” and its efforts to shut down Ukrainian electricity and infrastructure during the winter.
“Russia needs to be held accountable for everything it does against us, against our people, against Europe and the whole free world,” Zelensky added when mentioning sanctions and “legal pressure” on Russia.
When asked by a journalist about what would be a “just peace” to end the war, Zelensky admitted that it was a challenge to define what a just peace would include, as financial reparations would probably not satisfy those who lost loved ones to the invasion.
“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,” Zelensky said.
The White House announced the upcoming visit of Zelensky during a teleconference held Tuesday evening, with a senior administration official explaining that “this visit will underscore the United States’ enduring commitment to Ukraine.”
The planned agenda included a sit-down with Biden, meeting with key members of the Biden administration’s cabinet, a press conference and addressing a joint session of Congress.
“We’re looking forward to having President Zelenskyy back at the White House for his second visit but his first visit since the start of Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for some time,” the official added.
On Feb. 24, Russia invaded Ukraine, with Russian President Vladimir Putin claiming that his forces were attempting to secure the independence of parts of Eastern Ukraine that had reportedly voted to become independent.
Although Russia was expected to easily overrun Ukraine, the country has put up stiffer than expected resistance, with Russian forces often being repulsed by the Ukrainians.
Meanwhile, around 1,000 faith leaders in the United States, representing a diverse array of beliefs, have called on both sides to hold a temporary “Christmas truce” ceasefire.
The supporters of the truce compare their efforts to the “Christmas truce” of 1914, in which both sides of World War I halted their fighting and celebrated the Christian holiday together.
“Spiritual leaders from across the spectrum of faith communities and a diversity of ideological perspectives have become signatories in recognition of the fact that the way out of the war in Ukraine will not be a military solution,” they stated.
“They have signed on with the belief that a temporary ceasefire offers an opportunity for moral clarity that could be the first step toward a negotiated peace.”