Ukraine wants to win in 2023: Selenskyj's visit to the US marks a new phase of the war

A man at the front, historical parallels and a war in the free world for generations: This is how Ukraine's President Zelenskyj appears before the US Congress.

Ukraine wants to win in 2023: Selenskyj's visit to the US marks a new phase of the war

A man at the front, historical parallels and a war in the free world for generations: This is how Ukraine's President Zelenskyj appears before the US Congress. With its help, the Russian aggressor is to be expelled in the coming year.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy does not skimp on superlatives before the US Congress. "This war will decide the world in which our children and grandchildren will live." He asks for more help, more weapons and money to defend against the Russian invasion. He draws parallels to US history, the War of Independence, to the US soldiers who fought back the Nazis' Ardennes offensive in 1944; reports of millions of people who will spend Christmas by candlelight without electricity, heating or water because Russian missiles and drones destroy critical infrastructure.

Before flying to Washington, Zelenskyy drove to the hard-fought Donbass, where he awarded medals to soldiers and gave a supportive speech to them. From there he brought a signed Ukrainian "battle flag" to the Capitol in Washington: "You asked me to bring this flag to the congressmen and senators whose decisions can save millions of lives." Those present stand up, cheer and clap. Selenskyj could hardly have put it more clearly.

A few hours earlier he was sitting in the White House with US President Joe Biden, said a few words to the press, they spoke personally for two hours, then there was a press conference. On the previous visit in 2021, he had come in a suit. This time he's wearing military green, off-road footwear and a Ukrainian symbol on his chest. Zelenskyj is a media professional, he knows the power of images, probably even more in the United States than in other supporter countries: There comes a president, but not from his palace. But from the front. He knows what he's talking about.

His visit to the USA can help decide the war, he has to be convincing. The previous congress will soon finish its work, and the newly elected one will convene next year. There are some Republican members of parliament and senators who say: what do we care about the problems in Europe, we should sweep our own streets first. Donald Trump Jr. isn't a member of Congress, but before the visit from Europe, he drove skepticism to the extreme: "Zelenskyj is practically an ungrateful international social parasite," he mobbed.

Zelenskyj is well informed, but counters in Congress without mentioning the criticism: "Your money is not welfare, it is an investment in global security and democracy," and that it is being used responsibly. Without the support of the Americans, Ukraine would probably not be able to end this war. For this he thanks you several times. "We will win because we are united," says Zelenskyj, Ukraine, the United States, the free world. It is a national security issue for the United States.

Zelenskyj knows how US politics works, he regularly calls Biden. Hardly anyone has as much experience of the ways and mechanisms in Congress as the President, who previously sat there as a Senator for decades and was Vice President for eight years. So Zelenskyy never tires of emphasizing that Ukraine is fighting as a NATO outpost. It is only a matter of time before Russian President Vladimir Putin attacks Ukraine, he says. And without saying it: this would necessitate the deployment of US troops and escalate the war incalculably. "We have to stop them now!" he says urgently.

Conventional wars slowly escalate. If one side does not succeed quickly, both sides invest more and more. According to Zelensky, a victory in the battle for the remains of the city of Bakhmut, which has been raging since May, would be a turning point in the war: "Every inch there is soaked in blood," he says. "But we are stable." Above all, more artillery is needed.

Ukraine needs permanent support; Aid funds from international allies, weapons in ring swaps with NATO countries and ammunition supplies. Now the Ukrainian army is also getting Patriot missiles from the United States to better protect the country from Russian attacks with drones, cruise missiles and rockets. Several hundred soldiers need to be trained for this.

Selenskyj wants to win next year, he said several times during his visit. He spoke to Biden about how to retake all territory, and with what help. He doesn't reveal any details, but this much: "In the last 30 days we have become real allies and partners." After 10 months of the broad-based Russian invasion of Ukraine, the conflict has slowly moved into a new phase in recent weeks.

Putin is apparently not seriously considering withdrawing either. While Zelenskyj travels to Washington, the Russian head of state promises his military victory in Ukraine. The army will be modernized, but there are "no financial restrictions". Another 350,000 soldiers are to be put under arms and the compulsory military age is to be raised to 30 years.

Ukraine's supreme commander Valeriy Zalushnyi is counting on a new major Russian offensive within the next three months, with 200,000 fresh soldiers and an attack on the capital Kyiv. So Ukraine needs US support even more than it already does. "Next year will be the turning point," says Zelenskyj before the congress, so it's about people who stand by their values: "Your support is crucial." He grabs the members of Congress by the honor - they stand up and applaud.

On his first foreign visit since the invasion began in February, Zelenskyi delivered a strong, even very strong, speech: Clear, impressive, tailored to his audience. He spoke for 30 minutes at the end and was repeatedly interrupted by standing ovations. His performance was historic. The last wartime foreign leader to personally plead for help before the US Congress was British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1941. Then the tyrant from Berlin, now the tyrant from Moscow. And who knows what will happen if he doesn't get his win next summer either.