The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, on his first foreign visit since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24th February 2022, has addressed the US Congress in person. This followed being welcomed to the White House by US President Joe Biden and the First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, and a wider American-Ukrainian discussion on the ongoing war during which US Vice-President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Defence Lloyd J. Austin III were also present.
During his address to the US Congress, President Zelensky delivered a defiant speech in which he said that "against all odds and doom and gloom scenarios, Ukraine did not fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking", adding that his country would never surrender.
Referring to other conflicts in Russia's so-called "near abroad", Zelensky said that "this battle cannot be frozen or postponed. It cannot be ignored hoping that the ocean or something else will provide a protection."
Since February this year, Zelensky has adopted a tactic of tailoring his speeches to the national audience which he is addressing. His speech in the US Congress was no different. He said: "Just like the brave American soldiers, which held their lines and fought back Hitler’s forces during the Christmas of 1944, brave Ukrainian soldiers are doing the same to Putin’s forces this Christmas. Ukraine holds its lines and will never surrender!"
Zelensky's visit comes amid concerns from Republicans over the cost of American military aid to Ukraine. His address can be seen in large part as an attempt to assuage those worries and make the case for long-term American support for Ukraine's military. He notably said that "Your money is not charity, it's an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way."
He ended his some 25-minute long speech fulfilling a promise he had made to soldiers in Bakhmut whom he had visited the day before, handing a Ukrainian flag signed by the soldiers to the US Congress.
"When I was in Bakhmut yesterday, our heroes gave me the flag. The battle flag. The flag of those who defend Ukraine, Europe and the world at the cost of their lives. They asked me to bring this flag to the US Congress – to members of the House of Representatives and Senators, whose decisions can save millions of people."
A full transcipt of the speech can be read here.