[guest post by Dana]
He made the announcement on Twitter:
On my way to the US to strengthen resilience and defense capabilities of 🇺🇦. In particular, @POTUS and I will discuss cooperation between 🇺🇦 and 🇺🇸. I will also have a speech at the Congress and a number of bilateral meetings.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) December 21, 2022
The schedule for Ukraine’s president includes meeting with President Biden, a joint press conference, and tonight, Zelensky will speak before Congress. Reports suggest that he will thank the United States for all of the aid provided to Ukraine. Also, in a significant move, it is being reported that the U.S. will send a Patriot missile system to Ukraine to help support its air defense capabilities
In reading about Zelensky’s visit, there seem to be two camps in which people fall. Simplistically put: It’s a great thing that President Zelensky is visiting the United States and speaking before Congress about his country’s ongoing battle for Democracy and freedom from the aggression of Putin because it will shine an even brighter spotlight on the dangers of letting fascism get a foothold in Western nations, or, Zelensky’s visit is simply an opportunist coming to plead for more financial aid after having already receiving billions of dollars from the United States “while Americans go hungry.” The former considers the situation with an eye toward the lives lost and the devastating impact on Western nations if Putin is successful in taking over Ukraine. There is a belief that, at the very least, Western nations have both a moral and strategic obligation to push back on this as much as is in their power to do so. The other view is more blinkered, believing that we have no business being involved in the business of other nations’ conflicts, let alone providing financial aid. There seems to be no real strategic consideration or long-term view of how a Putin win might impact the West or any real consideration of the ongoing humanitarian crisis and devastation wrought by the hands of the invaders.
With that, I’m going to point you to this analysis, which delves into the political motivations behind the latter view of the situation. And it isn’t pretty:
Congress, meanwhile, is about to decide on sending billions more in aid. Ukraine needs this money not only to continue the fight but also for its people to survive as they face a harsh winter of violence from the man who vows not to end this war until Ukraine is under his control.
It seems apparent that Zelensky decided to make the trip to Washington because he is worried about the imminent GOP takeover of the House. He should be. Many of the Republicans who are about to become members of the majority—and to chair committees—have descended into reflexive mulishness about Ukraine, opposing whatever it is that President Joe Biden wants, solely as a matter of partisan showboating. Goaded on by the trolls and contrarians in the conservative press, people who professed to care little what was happening in Ukraine a year ago have pledged to exercise tight “oversight” of U.S. aid to Ukraine—as though the largest war in Europe since World War II is an over-budget consulting contract in suburban Virginia.
The real question, though, is whether anything Zelensky can say will matter to a Republican Party that has decided to torment the ghost of Ronald Reagan by taking sides with a neo-imperial Soviet nostalgist.
Hitting the nail on the head:
Overall, of course, rank-and-file Republicans support aiding Ukraine against Russia. But the Trumpian GOP is now controlled by its fringe, the same activists and primary voters who wear the i’d rather be a russian than a democrat T-shirts. Although much of the aid for Ukraine (including the Patriot system) is already in the pipeline, GOP grandstanding for the base could create more danger for Ukraine by encouraging Putin to believe that America’s commitment to freedom will wane over time. Indeed, the Russian president’s decision to invade Ukraine, as The New York Times reported this weekend, was predicated in part on his belief in the West’s weakness and short attention span.
Republicans performing for their base are unlikely to change their views now. But Zelensky is about to speak to all of America, and his presence in Washington will help remind people that this is not some esoteric foreign-policy tangle, but a brutal, bloody human contest between democracy and authoritarianism. His presence in front of a divided Congress might—at least, we can hope—help Americans ignore the cartoonish objections of right-wing pundits and strengthen the broader bipartisan coalition in the United States dedicated to protecting freedom in Europe and around the world.
And right on cue:
Of course the shadow president has to come to Congress and explain why he needs billions of American’s taxpayer dollars for the 51st state, Ukraine.
This is absurd.
Put America First!!! https://t.co/gkNonOhvDL
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene🇺🇸 (@RepMTG) December 20, 2022
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has undertaken a surprise trip to Beijing and held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping during which he said they discussed the Ukraine conflict…Medvedev said he and Xi had discussed the two countries’ “no limits” strategic partnership, as well as Ukraine. He did not provide further details…”We discussed cooperation between the two ruling parties of China and Russia … bilateral cooperation within our strategic partnership, including on the economy and industrial production. We also discussed international issues – including, of course, the conflict in Ukraine,” Medvedev said.