Zelensky To Address Congress In Person Wednesday As $45BN More In Aid Set For Approval
The D.C.-based online political news daily Punch Bowl has revealed late Tuesday that Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky is set to address Congress on Wednesday, but this time in person, as his plane has also possibly already arrived in the US.
It's believed the special address is the hidden subject of a letter circulated to lawmakers by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday which encouraged them to "be present for a very special focus on Democracy Wednesday night."
His appearance on Capitol Hill would mark the first time since the Feb.24 Russian invasion that he's left Ukraine. He's likely to use the occasion to "thank" lawmakers for proposing a gargantuan omnibus spending package which includes $45 billion in military, economic, and other foreign aid to Ukraine.
But without doubt he'll also quickly pivot to his "asks" - just like the first time he addressed Congress (virtually) on March 16 - which is likely to include another plea for the US military and NATO to "close the skies", as well as to send more advanced weaponry such as long-range missiles and warplanes.
Currently there are fears that Russia is planning a large-scale further invasion alongside Belarusian forces, as Putin has been visiting Minsk this week for talks. Ukraine is also struggling to keep power on amid devastating energy infrastructure attacks.
If Zelensky does again press for the US to "close the skies" - which would be tantamount to imposing a No Fly Zone (and brining the US directly into war with Russia) - it's likely to come couched in deeply emotional language, as the first speech to Congress was.
Zelensky's March address, it should be recalled, was laced with American patriotic references from Pearl Harbor to memories of 9/11 to Martin Luther King Jr, and even an appeal for Americans to "remember" the heroism and leadership etched on Mt. Rushmore. The speech further had a consistent theme that Russia had not just attacked Ukraine's people and values - but that it was attack on "basic human values" and thus the West itself.
Likely Wednesday's new in-person appearance will include themes of suffering during Christmas, given on Tuesday top Ukrainian officials alleged Russia is attempting to "steal" Christmas and impose maximum levels of suffering on the population. Lawmakers will meanwhile likely vote on the massive omnibus bill, which includes the tens of billions of dollars for Ukraine, within days after Zelensky makes his speech.