President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine receives a U.S. flag from Vice President Kamala Harris (L) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (R) after addressing a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said "Ukraine is alive and kicking" as he thanked Americans for their support during his address Wednesday evening to a joint meeting of Congress.
"It's too much for me. All this for our great people. Thank you so much," Zelensky said during a 3-minute standing ovation as he entered the House chambers at the U.S. Capitol shortly after 7:30 p.m. EST.
"I hope my words of respect and gratitude resonate in each American heart," Zelensky said, giving his entire 25-minute speech in English.
Zelensky, who wore his green fatigues sweatshirt during his address, thanked congressional members who have visited Ukraine for their support.
"Against all odds and doom and gloom, Ukraine didn't fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking," he said. "The Russian tyranny has lost control over us, and it will never influence our minds again."
Zelensky also credited U.S. leadership in uniting Europe against Russia's aggression.
"Europe is now stronger and more independent than ever," he said, despite concerns Russia could use high energy prices during the cold winter months to break alliances with Kyiv.
Zelensky, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris behind him, said that while he appreciates all of the United States' support, Ukraine still needs help.
"Your support is crucial to win on the battlefield," Zelensky said. "We have artillery. Yes, thank you. Is it enough? Honestly, not really."
Congress is considering a spending bill that could add more than $40 billion in support for Ukraine.
"Ukraine never asked that American soldiers fight on our land instead of us," Zelensky said. "I assure you that Ukrainian soldiers can perfectly operate American tanks and planes themselves."
"More cannons and shells are needed," he added. "Russia can stop its aggression if it wanted, but you can speed up our victory."
Zelensky told lawmakers "this battle cannot be frozen or postponed," as the country heads into winter's freezing temperatures.
"Your money is not charity," Zelensky said. "It's an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way."
"In two days, we will celebrate Christmas. There will be no electricity," Zelensky told lawmakers, adding that Ukrainians will celebrate by candle, "not because it's romantic" but because the Russians have destroyed infrastructure.
"Millions will have neither heating, nor running water," Zelensky said, adding that millions of Ukrainians will wish for the same thing this Christmas: "Victory!" he said to loud applause.
During his address, Zelensky vowed Ukraine "will win because we are united, Ukraine, America and the entire free world."
"Standing here today, I recall the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt that 'the American people in their righteous might will win through absolute victory,'" Zelensky said. "The Ukrainian people will win too. Absolutely."
Zelensky ended his speech to loud cheers as he said, "Happy victorious New Year" and presented a Ukrainian battle flag, signed by Ukrainian soldiers, to Pelosi and Harris.
"A symbol of our victory in this war," Zelensky said.
"They asked me to bring this flag to you, to the U.S. Congress, to members of the House of Representatives and Senators whose decisions can save millions of people."
Zelensky was then presented with the U.S. flag that flew over the Capitol earlier Wednesday.
Zelensky's trip was his first outside Ukraine since Russia invaded 10 months ago. He met with Pelosi, D-Calif., for a short news conference before the speech, saying "it's a great privilege to be here" and promising to speak in English.
"I want to give all the messages I prepared in your language with all respect to your country for that support you have done for Ukraine in our battle for our freedom," he said.
No guests were allowed in the House gallery for security reasons.
Earlier Wednesday, the United States announced additional support for Ukraine.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States will add $1 billion toward expanding Ukraine's air defense and precision-strike capabilities. The Defense Department is adding another $850 million toward U.S. security assistance to Ukraine.
President Joe Biden signed off on a longtime request from Zelensky on Wednesday, approving a battery of Patriot missiles to bolster Ukraine's air defenses. Zelensky has emphasized the importance of air defense systems in holding off attacks from Russia throughout much of the invasion.
In the Oval Office meeting with Zelensky earlier Wednesday, Biden lamented the cruelty of Russian attacks that have targeted Ukraine's infrastructure as another harsh winter approaches.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine receives a U.S. flag from Vice President Kamala Harris (L) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (R) after addressing a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo