Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked U.S. lawmakers for their financial support of his country in its fight against Russia and assured them that Ukraine would responsibly use the funds as he gave a historic address to a joint meeting of Congress.
“Your money is not charity. It’s an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way,” Zelensky said, prompting a standing ovation from many in the audience.
Zelensky addressed members of Congress after meeting with President Biden in the Oval Office as part of an unprecedented trip, the Ukrainian president’s first out of his country since Russia invaded in February.
His comments come on the heels of the Pentagon’s Wednesday announcement that the U.S. will send Ukraine a Patriot missile battery as part of a $1.85 billion weapons package, adding to the more than $21 billion in military assistance the U.S. has sent since the start of the war.
Ukraine could get another $45 billion if Congress passes its omnibus government spending bill by the end of the week.
“Financial assistance is also critically important, and I would like to thank you, thank you very much, thank you for both the financial packages you have already provides us with and the ones you may be willing to decide on,” Zelensky told lawmakers during the speech.
The Ukrainian president called U.S. aid, both funds and weapons, “crucial” to helping Ukraine stand up to Russia but also “to get to the turning point to win on the battlefield.”
He emphasized his nation’s appreciation for the assistance already handed over but underscored that Ukraine could face a long road to peace.
“Russia could stop its aggression, really, if it wanted to. But you can speed up our victory. I know it. And it will prove to any potential aggressor that no one can succeed in breaking national borders [and] committing atrocities and reigning over people against their will,” Zelensky said.
He also emphasized that, despite asking for aid, Ukraine wasn’t calling for U.S. soldiers to join in the fight.
“I believe there should be no taboos between us in our alliance. Ukraine never asked the American soldiers to fight on our land instead of us. I assure you that Ukrainian soldiers can perfectly operate American tanks and planes themselves,” Zelensky said.