Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hands US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a Ukrainian flag. Photo: Nancy Pelosi/Twitter
On Wednesday, December 21, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave his first in-person address to the US Congress, marking 300 days since the start of the Russia-Ukraine War. Zelensky had one key demand: more weapons from the US. The US anti-war movement responded in outrage at the proposal to escalate a war which has killed hundreds of thousands and plunged the world into famine and various cost of living crises.
“We have artillery, yes. Thank you,” said Zelensky, referring to the billions Biden’s administration has sent in military aid to Ukraine. “Is it enough? Honestly, not really. To ensure Bakhmut is not just a stronghold that holds back the Russian Army, but for the Russian Army to completely pull out, more cannons and shells are needed.”
Medea Benjamin, a founder of CODEPINK, a prominent US anti-war organization, tweeted in response, “There is nothing glorious about the Ukraine war. It is a lose-lose for everyone except weaponsmakers. Zelensky should be calling for peace. So should Putin. And Biden. And everyone else.”
“It is just a matter of time when they will strike against your other allies if we do not stop them now,” Zelensky urged. “We must do it. 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.”
Zelenskyy’s address marked a rare moment of bipartisan unity in the US Congress, as nearly every congressperson rose for a standing ovation before and after the speech. US Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said post-address, in a rare moment of agreement with President Joe Biden, “The most basic reasons for continuing to help Ukraine degrade and defeat the Russian invaders are cold, hard, practical American interests…defeating Russia’s aggression will help prevent further security crises in Europe.”
Top officials in both the Republican and Democratic parties are largely united in the push for more military aid to Ukraine. An omnibus funding bill is expected to pass both Houses of Congress before December 23 with bipartisan support. The bill includes a $45 billion aid package for Ukraine.
“The US capitalist establishment is very excited about the war in Ukraine. It’s a US proxy war with Russia,” tweeted ANSWER Coalition director and anti-war activist Brian Becker. “Super-profits for US arms dealers but no political blowback at home because Ukrainians & Russians are dying rather than US troops. It’s perfect!”
During his address, Zelensky gifted a Ukrainian flag to Congresswoman and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Vice-President Kamala Harris. After Zelensky’s speech, Pelosi gifted the Ukrainian President a US flag which flew above the US Capitol.
CODEPINK activists, alongside other anti-war organizations, continue to demand a Christmas Truce in Ukraine, contrasted with the bipartisan support for war escalation.