New Delhi: United States President Joe Biden extended his support to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and promised that “you will never stand alone” as the Ukrainian leader visited the White House to keep American weapons supplies flowing for the war against Russia.
Zelensky welcomed the support from the US while warning that it was difficult to see an easy end to the conflict and that there “cannot be any just peace in a war that was imposed on us”, as reported by The Guardian.
Zelensky attended the Oval Office meeting and addressed Congress on Wednesday evening as the incoming Republican leadership of the House of Representatives increasingly questions continuing “blank cheque” military aid. He left his country for the first time since Russia invaded 300 days ago.
After the two-hour meeting, Biden repeatedly affirmed the US’s commitment to Ukraine at a press conference. He said that the American people know that if we stand by in the face of such blatant attacks on liberty and democracy, and the core principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, the world would surely face worse consequences.
“You will never stand alone,” he said. “Because we understand in our bones that Ukraine’s fight is part of something much bigger. The American people know that if we stand by in the face of such blatant attacks on liberty and democracy, and the core principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, the world would surely face worse consequences,” The Guardian quoted Biden as saying.
The US has already supplied $22bn in military assistance to Ukraine since the Russians invaded in February. Shortly before Zelenskiy arrived, the White House announced a further $1.85bn in aid including, for the first time, advanced Patriot air defence missiles to defend against Russian attacks that have crippled Ukraine’s electricity and other infrastructure.
Zelensky said he had come to Washington to thank the US for what he described as its crucial military assistance, and to ask for more. He also appealed to Congress to approve $45bn in military aid for next year, despite Republican scepticism, saying it was in the US’s interests to support Ukraine.
“Every dollar of this investment for the United States is going to strengthen global security,” he said. “Regardless of the changes in the Congress, I believe that there will be bipartisan and bicameral support,” The Guardian quoted Zelensky. Asked by a Ukrainian reporter how the war might end – and what a just peace might look like – Zelenskiy was not optimistic.
“For me as a president, a just peace is no compromises as to the sovereignty, freedom, and territorial integrity of my country. And payback for all the damages inflicted by Russian aggression,” he said.
But Zelenskiy said a just peace was a more complicated issue for those who have suffered because of the war. “I would like to emphasise how many parents lost their sons and daughters on the frontlines. So, what is just peace for them? Money is nothing and those compensations or reparations are of no consequence. They live by revenge. I think this is a tremendous tragedy and the longer the war lasts, the longer this aggression lasts, there will be more parents who live for the sake of vengeance,” The Guardian quoted Zelensky.
Biden said there was an easy way for the conflict to be brought to a halt, but he did not expect it to happen soon, so the war will continue for now.
“We both want this war to end,” he said. “It could end today if Putin had any dignity at all and did the right thing and pulled out. But that’s not going to happen. It’s not gonna happen now. So what comes next? What we talked about today was we’re going to continue to help Ukraine succeed on the battlefield.”