Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told the U.S. Congress that aid to his country was an investment in democracy and “not charity” as he invoked battles against the Nazis in World War Two to press for more assistance in the war against Russia.
Zelenskiy’s comments on Wednesday come as Republicans – some of whom have voiced increasing scepticism about sending so much aid to Ukraine – are set to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives from Democrats on Jan. 3.
Some Republicans have even urged an end to aid and an audit to trace how allocated money has been spent.
“Your money is not charity. It is an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way,” Zelenskiy told a joint meeting of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, speaking in English.
The world was too interconnected to allow any country to stand aside and feel safe, Zelenskiy said as he appealed for bipartisan support.
Zelenskiy, wearing his trademark olive green trousers and sweater on his first foreign wartime visit, earlier met President Joe Biden, who called for support to keep flowing in 2023.
The United States announced another $1.85 billion in military aid for Ukraine, including a Patriot air defence system to help it ward off barrages of Russian missiles.
Zelenskiy said the Patriot system was an important step in creating an air shield.
“This is the only way that we can deprive the terrorist state of its main instrument of terror – the possibility to hit our cities, our energy,” Zelenskiy told a White House news conference, standing next to Biden.
“We would like to get more Patriots … we are in war,” Zelenskiy told reporters at the White House.
Russia says it launched its “special military operation” in Ukraine on Feb. 24 to rid it of nationalists and protect Russian-speaking communities. Ukraine and the West describe Russia’s actions as an unprovoked war of aggression.
Ukraine has come under repeated Russian strikes targeting its energy infrastructure in recent weeks, leaving millions without power or running water in the dead of winter.
Zelenskiy congratulated electrical workers for working round the clock, trying to keep the lights on as they marked Power Engineers’ Day on Thursday, a day after the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.
“Even if the enemy can temporarily leave us without light, it will still never succeed in leaving us without the desire to make things right, to mend and restore to normal,” he said on Telegram. “…Together we will overcome any darkness.”