If ever a leader embodied his nation, it is Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Unbroken, defiant, a civilian forced to don green military fatigues, Ukraine’s president spent Wednesday in Washington, DC, on his daring first trip out of his country since February’s brutal, unprovoked invasion of Russia. He expressed his heartfelt gratitude for America’s multi-billion dollar gun and ammunition lifeline – but made it clear he would never stop asking for more.
Appearing with extraordinary symbolism at the White House with President Joe Biden and before a joint session of Congress, Zelensky also brought sobering news. A long, bloody struggle for freedom, democracy and ultimately the survival of a nation that Russian President Vladimir Putin has said has no right to exist – a struggle for which it is still unclear whether the free world has the courage – is far from over over.
The comedian-actor-turned-war-hero has effectively placed the fate of millions of Ukrainians in the hands of American lawmakers, taxpayers and families at a time when skepticism is growing among the new majority in the Republican House of Representatives about the cost of US involvement.
In an emotional climax of his speech in the House Plenary Chamber, Zelensky presented Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris with a Ukrainian flag he recovered Tuesday from the hottest battlefront near Bakhmut.
“Our heroes … have asked me to take this flag to you, to the US Congress, to members of the House of Representatives and to senators whose decisions can save millions of people,” he said. “So, let these decisions be made. Let this flag stay with you.”
Editor’s note: This post was taken from the Dec. 22nd edition of CNN’s “Meanwhile in America,” the daily US politics email for global readers. Read the full analysis here or click here read and subscribe to past issues.