Zelensky took a plea to Congress as Russia Pounds Ukrainian Cities

A Conversation with Vladimir Biden about the Security Issues in the United States and the Prospect of Nuclear Armageddon During the 2008 Ukrainian Missile Crisis

EUREKA, Mo. — After falling out with his partner at a limousine company in the St. Louis suburbs, Martin Zlatev recently sought a lucrative new business opportunity: selling $30 million worth of rockets, grenade launchers and ammunition to the Ukrainian military.

“Time is of the essence,” the pair recently wrote to Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense. They outlined a plan to sell American, Bulgarian and Bosnian arms to Ukraine.

At the same time US lawmakers are considering a spending measure that includes an additional $45 billion for the country, a new announcement will be made to add to nearly $20 billion in security assistance provided to Ukraine.

Putin last month delivered a speech announcing the partial mobilization of some 300,000 reservists following successful Ukrainian counterattacks, raising the specter of nuclear weapons if he deemed the “territorial integrity” of Russia to be jeopardized. And the Russian president recently announced the annexation of four Ukrainian regions in defiance of international law.

Biden’s blunt assessment caught several senior US officials by surprise, largely due to that lack of any new intelligence to drive them and the grim language Biden deployed.

Biden’s remarks serve as a very real, very ongoing discussions inside his administration as he seeks to calibrate the response to that environment.

Biden often speaks from handwritten notes and follows a script he wrote himself at his fundraisers, which are usually only held with a few dozen donors. Biden uses a handheld microphone at his events but also makes himself at home in the room while he’s talking. Reporters are not allowed to record the President’s remarks at a convention that started during the Obama presidency.

His remarks are usually for 10 minutes, but he has talked about various topics for more than a half hour in the past. After the remarks, reporters are ushered out while Biden takes a few questions from the donors.

Biden’s comments about the prospect of nuclear Armageddon were not scripted and aides back in Washington first learned about his remarks through news reports and dispatches from the press pool in the room.

His logic came right out of the Cuban Missile Crisis, to which Mr. Biden referred twice in his comments at a Democratic fund-raiser in New York, a good indication of what is on his mind. In that famous case — the closest the world came to a full nuclear exchange, 60 years ago this month — President John F. Kennedy struck a secret bargain with Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet premier, to remove American missiles from Turkey.

The President’s use of Armageddon served to illustrate that point – there’s no escalation ladder when it comes to nuclear weapons, tactical or otherwise. Any move in that direction sets off a cascading response that only has one outcome.

Since the beginning of the conflict, US officials have wrestled with the threats and the potential for their use, as well as Putin and his nuclear saber rattling, which isn’t new.

The speech strengthened the US view of Russian weakness and isolation, but it also increased concern about Putin being willing to escalate beyond a rational actor.. and it was characterized as “insane” by one official.

White House officials decided not to say anything publicly Thursday night, and there are no plans to address the remarks in isolation so far on Friday morning. If Biden wants to address it himself, it will be apparent when he departs for his Maryland event later in the morning, one official said.

The most important element is that the US has not seen a change in the posture or intelligence that will raise the threat level above where it has been.

There have been direct communications to Moscow in the last several weeks detailing the scale of the US response should Putin decide to go down that path. Those details remain closely held, and officials say that won’t change any time soon.

The disaster that could have killed millions of people in the US and USSR was averted because of that deal.

The US gave a new aid package toUkraine, which included the first-ever transfer to it of thePatriot Air and Missile Defense System that could bring down cruise missiles, short-range missiles, and aircraft.

As of a Department of Defense briefing in late September, the US had yet to deliver NASAMS to Ukraine. At the time, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said two systems were expected to be delivered in the next two months, with the remaining six to arrive at an undetermined date.

The Secretary of State spoke with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister on Monday to reiterate the US’s support. Zelensky is scheduled to address the group during the emergency video conference with G7 leaders that Biden is expected to join.

Russian Launched Reactor and Blitzkrieg against Ukraine: Implications for the United States and For the Future of the Cold War

The General Staff of the armed forces of eastern Europe posted on Facebook that Russia launched a large number of missiles at targets across northern and western Ukraine on Monday.

A year ago, the Russian leader launched a blitzkrieg against Ukraine, mocking its history and sovereignty, sending his tanks churning toward Kyiv to obliterate the democratically elected government led by a former comic actor. To crush all of the dreams ofUkraine and to force it to return to the Russian sphere of influence.

The range of missiles that can and are frequently fired atUkraine is within Russia’s capabilities, as is a barrage timed for a presidential visit. Such a salvo might serve as a distraction to undermine political gain for Zelensky from the visit or signal to Ukrainians or American officials that Russia has options to respond to deepening U.S.-Ukrainian ties.

If Americans get tired of supporting Ukraine, if they listen to the ugly voices disparaging Zelensky, Russia could ultimately win, and the world as we know it would change. It would be a loss for democracy and a victory for autocracy. If Zelensky was able to make that clear, his historic visit was a triumph.

There will likely be additional support packages for Ukraine announced in the very near future according to John Kirby.

Kirby told CNN that he was sure that he was feeling the pressure at home and overseas.

When Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin met at the G20 summit – an adventure in victory for the world’s leading autocrats

Editor’s Note: Frida Ghitis, a former CNN producer and correspondent, is a world affairs columnist. She is a contributor to CNN, a columnist for The Washington Post, and a columnist for World Politics Review. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. View more opinion on CNN.

It took two years after Joe Biden was elected US President before the leaders of the world’s two most powerful countries could finally speak in person, but when he met with China’s leader at the G20 summit on Monday, the timing couldn’t have been better.

There are signs that democracy is just starting to reverse the waves of autocracy or at least its most dangerous elements. It is not yet clear how strong the global democratic push will be.

There is more to this meeting than who controls the Senate and the US House of Representatives.

As Biden and Xi were meeting, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made an emotional, triumphant return to the devastated, now liberated city of Kherson, the one provincial capital that Russian invaders had conquered.

By the time Xi and Putin met again in September, China had done little to support Russia militarily, and Putin admitted that Xi had “questions and concerns” about Ukraine. More recently, after the Russian President thinly threatened to use nuclear weapons, Xi rebuked him.

Putin and Xi, the world’s leading autocrats, looked ascendant, unstoppable even. Protests against Covid-19 restrictions roiled Western democracies. Putin was preparing for a victory. The Olympics were hosted by the President and he was looking forward to cementing his control of China.

The Ukrainians defended their country with unexpected tenacity and as Biden rallied allies to support them, Putin’s adventure turned to disaster.

Putin didn’t attend the G20 summit because he was becoming a pariah on the global stage.

The Year 2022: When Xi Biden Becomes the Absolute Governor: The Case against China in the Light of the Llysée Palace

To be sure, Biden is not the only leader with a strong hand. Xi has just secured an unprecedented third term as China’s leader, and he can now effectively rule for as long as he wants. He doesn’t have to worry about elections, about a critical press or a vociferous opposition party. He is essentially the absolute ruler of a mighty country for many years to come.

And yet Xi faces a mountain of daunting problems. The economy has slowed down so much that China is reluctant to reveal economic data. The Covid-19 vaccine is a disappointment. As the world returns to normal after the H1N1 pandemic, China is imposing a number of curbs, many of which are unwarranted.

Also crucial in the epochal competition between the two systems is showing that democracy works, defeating efforts of autocratic countries such as China and Russia to discredit it and proving that unprovoked wars of aggression, aimed at suppressing democracy and conquering territory, will not succeed.

Editor’s Note: Michael Bociurkiw (@WorldAffairsPro) is a global affairs analyst currently based in Odesa. He is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and a former spokesperson for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He contributes to CNN Opinion. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion at CNN.

The year was 2019. And the successful TV comedian turned commander in chief had traveled to Paris for a summit to negotiate a peace deal with Putin. Zelensky gave few concessions despite the doubts of many.

I saw how Zelensky pulled up to the lysée Palace in a small car, and how Putin drove in with a limo. (The host, French President Emmanuel Macron, hugged Putin but chose only to shake hands with Zelensky).

Fast forward to 2022 and Zelensky is the instantly recognizable wartime president in trademark olive green; as adept at rallying his citizens and stirring the imaginations of folks worldwide, as naming and shaming allies dragging their feet in arming his military.

Failure to demonstrate further progress on the battlefield with billions of dollars worth of military kit could stir unease among Western backers. But capitulation to Russia would be a political death sentence.

Zelensky had to persuade Americans that the fight for the values of the free world is what Ukraine is about.

He knew exactly what he needed to do after he got into a position of being surrounded by people like Putin, says Yevhen Hlibovytsky.

This, after all, is the leader who when offered evacuation by the US as Russia launched its full-scale invasion, quipped: “I need ammunition, not a ride.”

The Nightmare of the Fresh-Faced Zelensky: After a Year in the Life and Times of World War II: The Conversation with Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell

Amid the fog of war, it all seems a long, long way since the heady campaign celebration in a repurposed Kyiv nightclub where a fresh-faced Zelensky thanked his supporters for a landslide victory. He looked in disbelief when he stood on the stage and saw the confetti that he had just won the election.

The war appears to have turned his ratings around. Just days after the invasion, Zelensky’s ratings approval surged to 90%, and remain high to this day. Even Americans early in the war rated Zelensky highly for his handling of international affairs – ahead of US President Joe Biden.

His bubble includes many people from his previous professional life as a TV comedian in the theatrical group Kvartal 95. In the middle of the war a press conference held on the platform of a metro station in Kyiv featured shots of a wartime setting, with perfect lighting and camera angles.

As for his skills as comforter in chief, I remember well the solace his nightly televised addresses brought in the midst of air raid sirens and explosions in Lviv.

“By wearing T-shirts and hoodies, the youthful, egalitarian uniform of Silicon Valley, rather than suits, Zelensky is projecting confidence and competence in a modern way, to a younger, global audience that recognizes it as such,” Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, a fashion historian and author of “Red, White, and Blue on the Runway: The 1968 White House Fashion Show and the Politics of American Style,” told NPR.

She said that he was more comfortable than Putin on the camera, and also as a digital native. “I believe both of them want to come across as relatable, not aloof or untouchable, although Zelensky is definitely doing a better job balancing authority with accessibility.”

Zelenska has shown she is an effective Communicator in international fora by projecting empathy, style and smarts while travelling to where her husband can’t. Most recently, she met with King Charles during a visit to a refugee assistance center at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family in London. (Curiously, TIME magazine did not include Zelenska on the cover montage and gave only a passing reference in the supporting text).

Despite the strong tailwinds at Zelensky’s back, there are subtle signs that his international influence could be dwindling. In a pivotal moment in geopolitics last week the G7 imposed a $60 a barrel price cap on Russian crude despite Zelensky pleas that it should have been set at $30 to cause more pain for the Kremlin.

It was later discovered that Ukrainians will celebrate Christmas with candles, not because it is romantic but because there will be no electricity. Russia has destroyed a large part of its electrical grid.

When the world is truly united, Zelensky said in a recent nightly video address, it is then the world that determines how events develop.

Mr. Zelensky is expected to join Mr. Biden at the White House for an announcement on Wednesday — likely to include a pledge by the Biden administration of a new round of military assistance — before heading to Capitol Hill for a prime time speech, according to two people familiar with the planning.

Ten months later, he got both. When Zelensky touched down outside Washington in a US military plane Wednesday, his arrival capped a 10-day sprint by American and Ukrainian officials to arrange a risky wartime visit meant to rally support for Ukraine’s ongoing resistance to Russia’s invasion.

He’s delivered those appeals virtually, beaming into international summits and global legislatures to make his case for more weapons and funding. He has remained inside his country for the duration of the war, a reflection both of his desire to rally his besieged country and the precarious security situation he would face outside Ukraine.

Zelensky met with soldiers and handed out awards, according to his office. Video posted by state TV showed the president clad in fatigues and a flak vest presenting awards to troops. Since Russian troops launched a ferocious attack on the city in May, Bakhmut has seen some of the most ferocious fighting in the whole of the country.

On the effectiveness of the Patriot air defense system to help Ukraine win the war and protect Russia from its missile attacks in the 117th U.S. Congress

“We are ending a very special session of the 117th Congress with legislation that makes progress for the American people as well as support for our democracy. Please show up for the special focus on Democracy Wednesday night.

The expectation from members, per several sources, is Zelensky will address Congress on Wednesday. But the sources caution that this may not be final yet over security concerns.

Patriot air defense systems could intercept a large number of Russia’s missiles and attack drones – although Ukraine already claims a high success rate; on Monday, for example, it said 30 out of 35 missiles had been stopped. The Patriot is also a sign NATO’s best technology is on the table to help Ukraine win the war, or at least hold Russia back.

It’s not known how many missiles will be sent, but they usually include a radar set that tracks targets, a control station, power generating equipment, and up to eight missiles.

The official said US troops would train Ukrainians to use the system in a third country. CNN reported that training would happen at the US Army base in Germany.

Unlike smaller air defense systems, Patriot missile batteries need much larger crews, requiring dozens of personnel to properly operate them. The training for the missile batteries normally takes months, but the United States is now under attack from Russia that will cause the training to be delayed.

Zelensky’s visit to the United States ends with a disappointment: The Trump-Ukraine crisis in the House of Representatives

The visit is being done quickly to show American commitment to Ukraine at a time when Biden is having a hard time maintaining support at home and abroad.

When President Biden speaks in Warsaw this week, he is expected to make clear that the United States will supportUkraine for as long as it takes.

Zelensky decided that the parameters met his needs and the US would work to execute them. On Sunday, the trip was confirmed.

But the trip was about far more than symbols. Biden wouldn’t invite Zelensky to Washington – and endure a risky trip outside Ukraine for the first time since the war began – if he did not believe something real could be accomplished meeting face-to-face instead of over the phone.

The appearance would mark a potentially electrifying moment as Democratic control of the House — and Ms. Pelosi’s reign as speaker and a member of Democratic leadership — comes to a conclusion, with Republicans set to take over on Jan. 3.

Rules changes to the budgetary process will make it harder for Congress to pass new aid, and some conservatives have vowed to oppose any newUkraine funding.

Some Republicans in the House object to previous packages of military and humanitarian aid because they think the money is better spent in the United States. Just earlier on Tuesday, Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado, a far-right Republican, posted on Twitter scoffing at the release of the new aid.

What We Do Before Using Anonymous Sources: Jake Sullivan, Mark Zelensky, and the President of the United States during the War on Pearl Harbor

We consider what we do before using anonymous sources. Do the sources know the information? What is the motivation for telling us? Is they reliable in the past? Can we corroborate the information in order to prove it? Even with these questions satisfied, The Times uses anonymous sources. At least one editor and a reporter know who the source is.

During America’s Middle East wars of the last 20 years, Americans became accustomed to Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump leaving Washington in the dead of night and popping up in Baghdad or Kabul to visit US troops and US-backed leaders. Biden ventured into a foreign capital that is often under attack and lacks the security provided by large garrisons of American troops and air assets on his trip, which went further than those trips. According to Jake Sullivan, the US informed Russia of the plans to visit.

The historian Doris Kearns Goodwin compared Zelensky’s address to one given by Winston Churchill on Boxing Day in 1941 after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The US is giving the Ukrainian people a missile system that the Kremlin believes will prolong their suffering.

The speech was importantly symbolic because this was Zelensky’s first trip outside of Ukraine since the war began and he came to “the country that more than any other, perhaps more than all the others put together, has enabled his country to defend itself so far,” said former CIA Director and retired Army Gen. David Petraeus before Zelensky’s remarks.

Kevin McCarthy, a potential Speaker of the House, knows that he has been put under a lot of pressure by his right flank. Even though Ukraine still has strong Republican support in the Senate, it’s this kind of shifting political dynamic that appears to inform Kremlin perceptions about how long US resolve will last in a conflict on which Putin’s political survival may well depend.

Just remember: Zelensky’s memory of September 11, 1941, when the enemy attacked and attacked, recalls his 1981 birthday to the British parliament

Zelensky evoked Mount Rushmore during a virtual address to Congress in March. Two days of infamy in modern history were when Americans felt the fear of aerial bombardment.

On December 7, 1941, when the sky was black from the planes attacking you, remember Pearl Harbor. Zelensky said to just remember. “Remember September 11, a terrible day in 2001 when evil tried to turn your cities, independent territories, into battlefields. You couldn’t stop it when innocent people were attacked and attacked from the air. Our country experiences the same every day.”

President Franklin Roosevelt met with the British leader after he sailed to the US from England aboard the Duke of York, dodging U-boats in the wintery Atlantic, and flew from Virginia to Washington.

Over days of brainstorming and meetings – fueled by Churchill’s regime of sherry with breakfast, Scotch and sodas for lunch, champagne in the evening and a tipple of 90-year-old brandy before bed – the two leaders plotted the defeat of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan and laid the foundation of the Western alliance that Biden has reinvigorated in his support for Ukraine.

During his visit, the leader of the Allies in World War II said that he spent this anniversary and festival far from his country and family but that he didn’t feel far from.

The Ukrainian leader is likely to appreciate the historical parallels. He paraphrased one of Churchill’s most famous wartime speeches in an emotional address to British members of parliament in March.

The Problem of Russian Defense: The U.S. Navy’s Red Lines, the Ukraine’s Cold War, and the Challenge of the Cold War

There are two key headline deliverables: first, the Patriot missile systems. They have been described as the US’s “gold standard” of air defense. NATO makes sure that they are protected and that the people who operate them are properly trained.

The second are precision-guided munitions for Ukrainian jets. Russia and Ukraine have a lot ofdumb munitions that are fired towards a target. Ukraine has been provided with more and more Western standard precision artillery and missiles, like Howitzers and HIMARS respectively.

The larger year-end spending bill includes an increase in US defence spending that will help replenish American weapons and equipment in Ukraine, which is in dire need of it.

But Moscow is struggling to equip and rally its conventional forces, and, with the exception of its nuclear forces, appears to be running out of new cards to play. China and India have joined the West in open statements against the use of nuclear force, which has made that option even less likely.

Western analysts have noted Russia has grumbled consistently about these deliveries, but been relatively muted in its practical response to the crossing of what, as recently as January, might have been considered “red lines.”

Whatever the truth of the matter is, Biden wants Putin to know headline figures in billions, to force Russian resolve, to push European partners to provide more assistance, and to make Ukraine appear better-off than it really is.

The remnants of the Trumpist “America First” elements of that party have echoed doubts about how much aid the US should really be sending to the edges of eastern Europe.

Realistically, the bill for the slow defeat of Russia in this dark and lengthy conflict is relatively light for Washington, given its near trillion-dollar annual defense budget.

Volodymyr Zelensky, the United States Ambassador to Ukraine, spoke with Vladimir Putin, Vladimir Putin and the Ukrainian government during an extraordinary event Wednesday night at the White House

Members of the United States Congress, Republicans and Democrats, rose to their feet time and again Wednesday night, nearly drowning out Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in one emotional standing ovation after another. It was an extraordinary evening, concluding an extraordinary day during a crucial moment in history.

He assured a Congress that their money is not charity, so that they will debate billions more in military and economic support. It’s an investment in the security and democracy of the world.

Zelensky said in a press conference at the White House that they fight against tyranny and will win.

He gave Pelosi the Ukrainian flag that was signed by troops from the besieged area of Bakhmut to ask them to support his country. She handed him a flag that had been flown over the US Capitol, which he carried out of the chamber.

Zelensky’s historic speech strengthened both Democrats and Republicans who understand what is at stake in this fight against Putin and Russian aggression as well as their ally, Iran.

The speech connected the struggle of Ukrainian people to our own revolution and made us think about the families in Ukraine that will be unable to stay warm this Christmas because of the fighting.

At their summit in March last year, NATO leaders agreed to equip, arm and train Ukraine to NATO standards. It wouldn’t be a member, but the message to Moscow was unequivocal: In the coming years, Ukraine would look and fight like it was in NATO.

Clinton, who previously met Russian President Vladimir Putin as US secretary of state, said the leader was “probably impossible to actually predict,” as the war turns in Ukraine’s favor and his popularity fades at home.

Clinton said that she thinks that Putin is planning to put bodies of Russian conscripts into the Ukrainian fight.

Cloaked in secrecy and weighted with history, Biden’s trip was the work of months of planning by only a small handful of his senior-most aides, who recognized long ago the symbolic importance of visiting the Ukrainian capital a year after Russia tried to capture it.

A New Phase of American History: When Russia starts to lose its foot, Zelensky is ready to tell the world how to end the War

The men made clear after their talks that they saw the war entering a new phase. Fears of a stalemate are growing as Russia sends more troops to the frontlines and wages a brutal air campaign against civilians.

Zelensky used rhetoric on Wednesday that suggested the road to ending the war would not involve making concessions to Russia.

“For me as a president, ‘just peace’ is no compromises,” he said, indicating he doesn’t see any road to peace that involves Ukraine giving up territory or sovereignty.

Later, in his address to Congress, Zelensky said he’d presented a 10-point peace formula to Biden – though US officials said afterward it was the same plan he offered to world leaders at the Group of 20 summit last month.

In conversations behind closed doors at the Mariinsky Palace on Monday, Biden sought to engage President Volodymyr Zelensky in a detailed and urgent discussion about the next phase of the war, which US officials describe as having arrived at a critical juncture.

Zelensky spoke of the important battles in American history, from the Battle of the Bulge in WWII to the Battle of Saratoga during the American Revolutionary War.

He chose to give his address in English, a choice he telegraphed ahead of the speech. Even his attire – the now-familiar Army green shirt, cargo pants and boots – seemed designed to remind his audience they were in the presence of a wartime leader.

Zelensky has demonstrated that he has the ability to appeal to the widest possible audience over the course of the conflict.

On Wednesday, he sought to bring Americans into the picture when Russia attempts to interrupt the power supply in Ukranian.

“In two days we will celebrate Christmas. Maybe a bit of light. Not because it’s more romantic, no, but because there will not be – there will be no electricity,” he said.

Why do we need so much? Why Biden and Zelensky fought for a better understanding of the American people in war zone

But he also seemed aware that many Americans – including some Republicans in Congress – have wondered aloud why billions of US dollars are needed for a conflict thousands of miles away. He sought to make the cause about more than his own homeland.

“The battle is not only for life, freedom, and security of Ukrainians or any other nation which Russia attempts to conquer,” he said. The world our children and grandchildren will live in will be defined by the struggle.

Yet it doesn’t take much to see tensions just beneath the surface. Zelensky has consistently agitated for additional US support, despite the tens of billions of dollars in military assistance that Biden has directed to his country.

On the surface, Biden and Zelensky have maintained a stalwart partnership. And Zelensky was effusive in his praise of Biden as he went from the Oval Office to the East Room to Capitol Hill.

Biden and his team did not like that at all. Biden appeared to be trying to translate physical proximity into a better understanding of his counterpart, as he has done with other foreign leaders.

“It is all about looking someone in the eye. I mean it in the most affectionate way possible. I don’t think there is any substitute for sitting down face to face with a friend or a foe and looking them in the eye,” he said.

Zelensky urged the United States to stay with Ukraine and warned that the U.S. will continue to do what the Russians are doing

On Wednesday evening, President Zelensky wore a green military uniform to shore up his supply line, just a day after returning from the bloody front lines in Ukraine.

Zelensky was dressed like a warrior and used English to say that the Russians had lost in the battle for minds of the world.

Although he did not mention the elephant in the room, the speech was a clear plea to Republican lawmakers, who will control the House in January, to stay with Ukraine.

Despite concern from Biden administration officials about the possibility of cutting aid, there’s at least $45 billion in assistance approved by Congress at the end of last year.

Wednesday’s White House reception could not have been the one Zelensky envisioned years ago when he faced then-President Donald Trump’s call for him to investigate Biden in exchange for military aid. And now Zelensky was thanking Americans for their help against Russia in the very chamber where Trump was impeached three years ago for pressuring Zelensky.

During World War II, the US troops were encircled in the snow when they gained a foothold in Europe on D-Day.

“Just like the brave American soldiers, which held their lines and fought back Hitler’s forces during the Christmas of 1944, brave Ukrainian soldiers are doing this same to Putin’s forces this Christmas,” Zelensky said.

He has established that the American people will do the fighting for them, but then he said that they need to give the tools and we will finish the job. That’s what the man said to CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

What Will the US Do? Ask Zelensky to Make the US Republic More Responsible in Ending Russian Occupation. A Key Policy Statement at the House Select Committee on Foreign Affairs

Lenin asked what was to be done. I believe the way forward for the United States is, first, to double down on diplomacy to convince those nations that have not joined in stoutly supporting the defense of Ukraine of the moral, political, legal and military necessity of doing so.

An address to Congress is the ultimate platform for a foreign president in the US and maybe around the world. It is different from the annual year-end press conference canceled by Putin.

It is clear to Zelensky and to Biden that this is the best time to re-engagement the US public as Russia continues to fight with no idea of an end in sight.

Ukraine has performed better than anyone expected last February, when Russia invaded, but that brave fighting, with help from hardware from the US and other NATO countries has won Ukraine the beginnings of a stalemate, not the end of Russian occupation.

Petraeus added it was substantive because of the new money pledged to Ukraine both at the White House and in a larger $1.7 trillion spending bill lawmakers need to pass before Friday.

Kevin McCarthy, the leader of the House Republicans, met with Zelensky and the other three top congressional leaders in order to get the votes he needs to become House speaker.

A majority of Americans remain behind supporting Ukraine and keeping sanctions on Russia, according to recent polling, but in a December survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the share of Americans who believe the US should support Ukraine for “as long as it takes” dropped 10 percentage points since the summer to about half. Just a third of Republicans supported indefinite support in the survey.

The only Ukrainian-born member of Congress, Indiana GOP Rep. Victoria Spartz, has expressed skepticism about some of the aid to Ukraine and concerns about corruption in Zelensky’s administration.

The war in Ukraine has reached 10 months with Moscow saying that it isset for a long confrontation with Russia.

Russia’s foreign ministry condemned what it called the “monstrous crimes” of the “regime in Kyiv,” after US President Joe Biden promised more military support to Ukraine during Zelensky’s summit at the White House on Wednesday.

Maria Zakharova said that the West will achieve nothing even if they give it a lot of military support for the Ukrainian government.

“As the leadership of our country has stated, the tasks set within the framework of the special military operation will be fulfilled, taking into account the situation on the ground and the actual realities,” Zakharova added, referring to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The meeting showed that the US was fighting a proxy war against Russia on behalf of the last Ukrainian, according to Peskov.

It was historic and deadly, it was just another year that tried patience and nerves. Russian President Vladimir Putin did what was unimaginable to many, launching the largest land war in Europe since World War II. In Uvalde, Texas and many other mass shootings in the United States, all too common horrors were unleashed. And, inevitably, luminaries who brought light to our lives were extinguished.

The CNN Top 100 Digital Stories 2022: Where did the world come from? Who read, watched and listened to what news, where or why did we read it, or what happened in Ukraine?

When news breaks, the world comes to CNN, as it has for more than 40 years on television and more than 25 years on digital platforms. On average, more than 165 million of you came to CNN Digital from around the globe every month in 2022, according to Comscore.

The school shooting in Uvalde, the election night stream of CNN and our digital pages of up-to-the-second results from hundreds of races are some of the stories that made the top 10 most read, watched or listened to.

Early in the conflict, I wrote an analysis explaining the limits of what the US and its allies would and would not do in Ukraine. The limits have been a point of disagreement since the start, as Russia accuses the West of going too far.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade and its impact on womens lives in the US was a recurring top story.

Interest and fear surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic waned as the pandemic itself did, but the last weeks of the year have brought new worries, especially in China. Pandemic developments know no borders, according to history.

Entertainment news brought millions of you to CNN. Our top entertainment story was the tragic death of Stephen “tWitch” Boss, the amiable DJ for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” There were bright moments too: like the Good Samaritans that made a difference in the lives of strangers.

For those playing along at home, every piece on our Top 100 Stories list this year received more than 3 million visits, according to our internal data.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/31/us/top-100-digital-stories-2022-trnd/index.html


Thank you for being here with us through it all. We promise we will be here for you in the years to come, for every news story and piece of joy you can imagine.

The administration announced a new $2.85 billion drawdown for Ukraine, part of more than $3 billion in new military assistance to Ukraine. The drawdown, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday, will include “Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, artillery systems, armored personnel carriers, surface to air missiles, ammunition, and other items to support Ukraine as it bravely defends its people, its sovereignty, and its territorial integrity.”

The two Republican congressmen who were opposed to McCarthy until Friday had been calling for changes to the leadership of the House. McCarthy has continued to be opposed by other Ukraine aid skeptics.

Several Republican members who switched their votes to support McCarthy on Friday said they are encouraged by a framework of an agreement, but provided no specifics about the deal and said talks are ongoing.

It was higher than the president requested, as a reflection of Democrats’ concern that funding wouldn’t be as forthcoming in a GOP-led House. In some ways, that number was an insurance policy against Republican resistance and the view inside the White House was that that figure would sustain US support for several months.

A third diplomat expressed concerns concessions like crucial committee assignments, such as the House Rules Committee, could be given to lawmakers who have advocated against more aid to Ukraine, which could create immense hurdles for passing additional assistance legislation.

“This is a harbinger for a protracted legislative paralysis,” the diplomat said, adding that “the Freedom Caucus – which is not particularly pro-Ukrainian – has just demonstrated its clout.”

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/06/politics/ukraine-aid-republicans-biden/index.html

The EU’s worst enemy: Chancellor Scholz’s Brexit drive to Putin’s wrath and the German Chancellor’s moral compass

They were keeping a close watch on McCarthy to see how he would secure the role, which could include cuts to aid.

Another diplomat told CNN they’re personally concerned about “the policy concessions McCarthy has to make, and if they are going to affect US role in the world.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday welcomed the latest drawdown, saying it was an “awesome Christmas present for Ukraine!” And lawmakers in Ukraine told CNN they are not concerned that the future of assistance is at risk, noting the strong past bipartisan and public support for aiding their country.

Russia had invested a lot in the undersea line, which they planned to use to ramp up economic leverage over Europe and its powerhungry heavy industries. Germany, a leading consumer, was on board from the get-go. Washington was not.

The United States didn’t want the new, high-capacity supply to be replaced by old overland lines that brought vital revenue to the increasingly Westward leaning leadership in Kyiv.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s refusal, in his words, “to be pushed” to go it alone in sending tanks to Ukraine – instead standing his ground and demanding US President Joe Biden join him in the venture, risking Putin’s wrath – has shown the transatlantic power dynamic has shifted.

Europe has been slow in response to the deep fissures in US politics and the uncertainty it could cause its allies. Germany is leading the way, as decades of a reasonably unshakable reliance has been replaced by stubborn European pragmatism.

Former Chancellor Merkel was Europe’s moral compass. He flashed a rare moment of steely leadership and won thunderous applause in the German parliament on Wednesday as he found metal in his ponderous, often stop/go/Wait traffic-light governing coalition.

Ukraine’s ongoing metamorphosis from legacy Soviet force to NATO clone hasn’t just been about the mechanics or even diplomacy of getting tanks, fighting vehicles, air defenses and artillery, it’s been about bringing NATO member states’ near-billion people along with their politicians. The speaker of parliament made this point on Wednesday.

“Trust us,” he said, “we won’t put you in danger.” He spelled out how his government had already handled Russia’s aggression and how fears of a freezing winter and economic collapse were not realized. He said that they are in a better position now that the crisis is over.

The applause at each step of his carefully crafted speech spoke as loudly as his words. Scholz got it right for Germany because he brought with him a population that was typically against war and willing to project their own power, and deeply divided over whether they should aid Ukraine in killing Russians and potentially angering the Kremlin.

NPR Observations on the State of the Union: Putin’s Pushing Russia on the Confrontation with Moscow and the Russian War in Ukraine

Russia would use nuclear weapons if it was threatened, according to former Russian President and deputy chairman of its national security council, Dmitry Medvedev.

The mixed messaging has some Muscovites CNN spoke with after the announcements by Biden and Scholz on tanks confused. Some people said that Russia would win despite the heavy death toll and some even said that the US and Germany would be the loser.

How much Scholz is aware of Putin’s softening popularity or whether he believes it relevant at this moment is unclear, but his actions now, sending tanks, may help ease Putin’s iron grip on power.

Longer debates about the next military moves for Ukraine could be coming and will likely signal to Zelensky that weapons supplies will be on more of a German leash, and less unilaterally led by Washington.

It is not clear if the shift in power will change the way wars are fought or if it will affect the contours of a final deal.

President Zelenskyy went on a Europe tour, meeting leaders in London, Paris and Brussels and repeating his call for allies to send fighter jets to his country.

The Institute for the Study of War said that Russian forces began attacking Ukrainian defensive lines and making marginal advances in the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk. Russian forces are trying to encircle Bakhmut in the eastern Ukraine, said analysts at the Atlantic Council.

The Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States attended the State of the Union speech for the second year in a row, but the war in Ukraine did not receive the same amount of attention.

The international team investigating the downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine says there’s a “strong indication” that Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the shipment of anti-aircraft weapons to the rebels.

Here, you can read past recaps. For context and more in-depth stories, you can find more of NPR’s coverage here. Also, listen and subscribe to NPR’s State of Ukraine podcast for updates throughout the day.

John J. Sullivan: a United States Ambassador to Russia in the First Two Years of World War II. The Case of a Russian Operation on Europe

Editor’s Note: John J. Sullivan was US Ambassador to Russia from December 2019 to October 2022. He was the US deputy secretary of state. He is currently a partner in one of the firms and also a distinguished fellow at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. Read more opinion on CNN.

I told everyone I knew that Russian President Putin was going to start a war on Europe, which hadn’t been done since World War II.

I was uncertain about my pre-war assessment. For two years, I had worked hard as US ambassador to make even modest progress in the few areas in which any dialogue was possible with the Russians.

President Joe Biden had a meeting with Putin in June of 2021. None of us in the US delegation had a sense that we would make progress on any issue, but we did think that it was in the United States’ best interests.

The war changed things great and small, from where I lived in Moscow to Russia’s standing in the world. I had to move onto the Embassy compound because the pace of teleconferences with Washington, combined with an eight-hour time difference, meant I had to be immediately available at all hours.

Grain markets were affected by the invasion, as well as energy markets. And most tragically, it slaughtered thousands of innocents and caused unspeakable suffering for millions of Ukrainians because of a policy choice by Putin in his quest for empire.

The savage Russian violence has forced almost 15 million Ukrainians to become refugees or internally displaced and the missile strikes on civilian targets continue. Russia is a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, whose mission is to preserve and defend world peace.

Kira Rudik, a Member of the Ukrainian Parliament, told CNN that the tipping point in the war would be when the alliance stopped beingreactive to what Putin would do.

Only then will the Russian government realize that the goals of its Special Military Operation cannot and will not be achieved. The Russian government will only negotiate in good faith. And only then will the world return to normal.

On the Secret Arrival of the Vice President of the United Nations, Sergei Petrovich Biden, on a Far-Infrared Trip to Ukraine

Biden announced a half-billion dollars in new assistance, saying the package would include more military equipment, such as artillery ammunition, more javelins and Howitzers. He said sanctions would be imposed on Moscow later this week.

Instead, he secretly left Washington early on Sunday morning. Details of how he got to Ukraine were not immediately available due to security concerns. The vice president left the capital. Kyiv has been the target of Russian missile and drone strikes, including as recently as Feb. 10.

Keeping Biden’s plans secret required extraordinary measures on the part of the White House. In the weeks preceding Biden’s trip, top aides repeatedly shot down the idea of him going to Ukraine. The effort was made to keep that position going in the hour before Biden arrived.

Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser to the VP, is a part of Biden’s travelling team.

Biden has been itching to visit Ukraine for months, particularly after several of his counterparts in Europe all endured lengthy train journeys to meet with Zelensky in Kyiv. French President, German Chancellor, British Prime Minister, Canadian Prime Minister, and Boris Johnson have all visited the country to show their support.

Last year, on Mother’s Day, the wife of Biden paid a visit to a small city in the far southwestern corner of Ukraine. The former school was turned into temporary housing for Ukrainians displaced by war, with 48 children living there.

Yet security precautions had prevented Biden from making a similar trip. When he visited Poland in April last year, the White House did not even explore the potential for a trip across the border, even though Biden said he had voiced interest.

The First US Foreign Minister’s Visit since the Moscow-Russian War: China’s Strong Interaction with the Middle East and the Afghanistan Crisis

The US has refused to define what a settlement may look like beyond saying it will be up to Zelensky to decide.

American officials told CNN on Saturday that the US has begun to see disturbing trends and there are signs that Beijing is planning to give lethal military aid to Moscow without being caught.

The officials would not describe in detail what intelligence the US has seen suggesting a recent shift in China’s posture, but said US officials have been concerned enough that they have shared the intelligence with allies and partners at the Munich Security Conference over the last several days.

Wang is expected to arrive in Moscow this week, in the first visit to the country from a Chinese official since the start of the Russia-Ukrainian conflict.

According to China’sForeign Ministry, Wang’s visit will offer an opportunity forChina and Russia to continue developing their strategic partnership and exchange views on “international and regional hotspot issues of shared interest.”

Polls show a growing number of Americans feel that America is giving too much after Congress allocated more than $112 billion in military and economic support in a single year.

“My great fear is that there’s going to be some scandal,” said Mark Cancian, an expert in military procurement who has worked both at the Office of Management and Budget and the Pentagon. Either weapons show up in the Middle East, someplace where they’re not supposed to be, or a corrupt individual is discovered to have taken funds and spent them on a yacht in the Mediterranean paid for by American taxpayers.

“When you spend that much money that fast, there’s bound to be problems, there’s bound to be leakage,” said John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

When aid to Afghanistan failed, Sopko warned that it would only take so much to start to cause economic damage in the country.

Is there a “no-go” for U.S. involvement in the fight against Ukraine’s military weapons? The case of Ukraine

You put a sponge on the kitchen counter and fill it with water. Drip, drip, drip. It holds the water, ” Sopko said. Then all of a sudden it reaches a particular point, and the water starts flowing out from that sponge.

The most recent funding package build in more funding for oversight was the reason why the Republican leaders want more regular checks on spending.

One report, released last month, found that there’s a “significant risk of misuse and diversion given the volume and speed of assistance” during the war. The classified Pentagon report raises concerns that the Defense Department is not able to fully monitor the weapons because U.S. troops are not allowed in the country.

But so far, there has been no credible evidence of wide-scale problems, said Jessica Lewis, assistant secretary for the State Department’s bureau of political-military affairs.

“We should all be concerned about the possibility of a weapon ending up in the wrong hands outside of Ukraine,” Lewis said. “That is why we have to put all of these things in place.”

She said the defense staff at the Kyiv embassy has been increased, while U.S. inspectors have been to Ukraine. The Ukrainian government has signed detailed security agreements about safeguarding the weapons and not transferring them to third parties.

She said that it was their responsibility to our own national security. The American public has a responsibility to make sure that we transfer a weapon in a responsible way.

Source: https://www.npr.org/2023/02/20/1141689717/ukraine-russia-biden-funding

John Sopko: the U.S. Government is Waiting Too Long to Set a Team for Oversight Reviews in Ukraine

A lot of administration offices are doing oversight reviews for several departments and agencies. John Sopko said he is concerned that there’s a lack of coordination.

He said there should be a dedicated team for the work and he worries that the U.S. government is waiting too long to set that up. That’s a lesson that should have been learned from Afghanistan, he said, where his office would have been more effective had it been established much earlier in the conflict.

Sopko is particularly worried about economic aid. The U.S. is sending about $50 billion to help prop up the Kyiv government, money that helps pay the salaries of officials, police officers and teachers.

“That was one of the biggest concerns we had in Afghanistan,” he said. “Because the salaries we were paying weren’t going to the right people or weren’t going to people at all … So we had ghost civil servants, ghost people in the military, ghost teachers or whatever.”

Last year, Ukraine was ranked 116 out of 180 countries for corruption by Transparency International. The country tried to join the European Union but was kept out of NATO by the issue.

But, just months before the war started, Biden himself was complaining about corruption, explaining that was why Ukraine wasn’t getting closer to joining the NATO alliance.

Biden said that they still have to clean up corruption. “The fact is, they have to meet other criteria to get into the action plan. School’s out on that question.

Source: https://www.npr.org/2023/02/20/1141689717/ukraine-russia-biden-funding

The U.S. Embassy to Ukraine in 2021: Resilient Overcoming the Corruption Scandal in Ukraine, and its Implications for the 2024 Ukrainian War

The president submitted a bill in early 2021, which would have closed the Administrative District Court, which was criticized for being corrupt.

“I think that that’s a pretty good example that corruption can be pretty resilient in Ukraine,” said Steven Pifer, a Clinton-era U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. “It took some time… Finally, it was shut down. And that was a good thing for Ukraine’s justice system.”

Then last month, Zelenskyy fired another group of officials in a corruption scandal. Zelensky said in a video address during the scandal that he wanted people to understand, so they wouldn’t go back to the lifestyles that bureaucrats had gotten used to.

Republicans and Democrats are calling for more oversight of the war effort in Washington. They do not want to give political leverage to those who are more interested in cutting assistance altogether.

“We as Democrats — as the White House — I think we should continue to work with these national security Republicans … and their fellow travelers in good faith to not let domestic politics prevent us from staying united behind Ukraine,” said Rep. Jake Auchincloss, D-Mass.

It’s also in Biden’s political interests to work with those Republicans. He’s widely expected to make a run for a second term in the 2024 election, and he doesn’t want a Ukraine spending scandal to become an election issue.

“I thought it was critical that there not be any doubt, none whatsoever, about U.S. support for Ukraine in the war,” Biden said, emphasizing bipartisan support in Congress for Ukraine.

Around 7 p.m. ET on Saturday night, President Joe Biden was out in Washington on a Valentine’s week date-night, lingering over rigatoni with fennel sausage ragu before returning with his wife to the White House.

The fate of a presidential trip to Ukraine as outlined by U.S. military air force response during a war-zone crisis: a disappointment for the American president

Air raid sirens wailed as he walked out of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Kyiv into a bright winter day 36 hours later.

Yet it was more than symbolism that drove Biden to endure the significant risk of visiting an active war zone without significant US military assets on the ground.

“This is so much larger than just Ukraine. It’s about freedom of democracy in Europe, it’s about freedom and democracy at large,” he said, his blue-and-yellow tie an overt nod to his Ukrainian hosts.

The trip was fluid and part of the reason was that. Even as the small circle of White House officials looped in on the planning grew confident it was an achievable undertaking, the realities of sending a president into a war zone where the US had no control over the air space were daunting.

There was no notice on Sunday that Biden was no longer in Washington. His departure time is listed on the White House schedule as 7PM on Monday.

“We’re going to continue to use our convening power, to marshal the world, to galvanize support for Ukraine, but there are no plans for the president to enter Ukraine on this trip,” NSC spokesman John Kirby said in an interview on MSNBC’s “The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart.”

But at that point, Biden had already lifted off from Joint Base Andrews hours before, not in the usual plane that is synonymous with Air Force One, but instead in a smaller Air Force C-32.

The flight would stop for fuel in Germany before continuing into Poland. As he jetted eastward, Biden’s focus was plotting out his conversations with Zelensky, hoping to use his limited time wisely in discussing the coming months of fighting.

“I’m here in Poland to see firsthand the humanitarian crisis and quite frankly, part of my disappointment is that I can’t see it firsthand like I have in other places,” Biden said then. “They will not let me – understandably, I guess – cross the border and take a look at what’s going on in Ukraine.”

It was the culmination of a process that began months earlier, as Biden watched as foreign counterparts made their way into Ukraine.

In the planning stages for this trip, Biden was presented with a range of options for a visit to Ukraine but decided that only the capital Kyiv made sense as a venue, a person familiar with the matter said.

Kate Bedingfield said that this was a risk that Joe Biden wanted to take. Even when it is difficult and challenging, he directs his team to make it happen.

Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, declined to say if Biden had to overrule Secret Service or military officials to go on the trip.

“He got a full presentation of a very good and very effective operational security plan. Sullivan said that he heard that the risk was manageable and he made a decision to go.

Joe Biden, President of the United States, and the Anniversary of the Crimes of January 6th, 2024: CNN’s Joe Rudik Revisited

Back then, anyone predicting how the anniversary of the war would be marked might have mused about a Russian military parade and a visit by Putin himself to a puppet leader he installed in a nation again under Moscow’s iron fist.

The president of the U.S., in an overcoat and shades, strolled through Kyiv in the daylight, visiting a church as air raid sirens wailed and standing next to the president in St. Michael’s Square.

Biden would have admitted that there were things that Putin could prevent him from doing if he hadn’t traveled to Ukraine.

“President Biden has claimed the upper hand … and tomorrow Putin will have to reply to what happened today,” Rudik said, referring to a speech in which Putin is expected to rally the Russian people on Tuesday.

The dilemma is how far to go in order to protect the interests of the west while avoiding a direct clash between the West and Russia.

McCaul told CNN that the US had taken too long to send weapons to Ukraine in the past and should not do it again. The Texas Republican, who was asked if the Biden administration was considering sending fighter planes, replied, “I think there is a lot of support for that to happen.”

A journey that required a lot of energy and resilience felt like a jab at those who are questioning whether Biden should consider a reelection race at the age of 80.

Many Americans on the right agree that Biden has not done enough to secure the southern border and this will be at the forefront of the 2024 election. The deterioration in civility in US politics did not just occur because of the comment. The pro- Trump Republican has supported the insurrectionists who tried to wipe out American democracy on January 6, 2021.

This is not right. Today on our President’s Day, Joe Biden, the President of the United States chose Ukraine over America, while forcing the American people to pay for Ukraine’s government and war. I cannot tell you how many Americans hate Joe Biden.

There may be nothing more presidential than standing for the foundational US values of freedom and democracy and the right of a people to repel tyranny enforced at the point of the gun from a more powerful foreign oppressor whose fight for independence mirrors America’s own.

“Biden in [Kyiv]. Russian journalist Sergey Mardan wrote in response to another that there was a huge humiliation of Russia. “Tales of miraculous hypersonics may be left for children. It was like spells about the holy war in the West.

Biden could have escaped unharmed if he’d visited the frontlines in eastern Ukraine, according to a former Federal Security Service officer.

If the grandfather is brought to Bakhmut as well it will be because he is not good for anything, and nothing will happen to him.

Girkin is among a number of hardline military bloggers – some of whom have hundreds of thousands of followers and provide analysis of the conflict for large swaths of the Russian population – who have repeatedly criticized what they consider a “soft” approach on the battlefield by Putin’s generals.

Biden’s visit to the Ukrainian capital is unwelcome to Putin, the Kremlin’s spokesperson, and Russian intelligence

Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, said the United States had told Russia of the plan to visit the Ukrainian capital.

The debate over Biden’s visit will be unwelcome to Putin, who will on Tuesday make a major speech to the Federal Assembly in which he will discuss the ongoing invasion.

Participants of what Russia refers to as its “special military operation” will be in attendance but foreign guests or representatives will not be invited, the Kremlin’s spokesperson told reporters Monday.

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