Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a joint meeting of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on Wednesday, December 21.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a joint meeting of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on Wednesday, December 21. (Ting Shen/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

If ever a leader personified his nation, it is Volodymyr Zelensky.

Unflappable, defiant, a civilian forced to dress in green military fatigues, Ukraine’s president spent Wednesday in Washington, DC, on his daring first trip outside his country since Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion in February. He expressed sincere gratitude for America’s billion-dollar arms and ammunition, but made it clear that he would never stop asking for more.

Appearing with extraordinary symbolism in the White House with President Joe Biden and before a joint meeting of Congress, Zelensky also made critical news. A long and bloody battle for freedom, democracy and ultimately the survival of a nation that Russian President Vladimir Putin says has no right to exist, a fight for which it is not yet clear that the world free have a stomach, it’s not over.

The comedian-turned-war hero effectively put the fate of millions of Ukrainians in the hands of American lawmakers, taxpayers and families at a time when there is growing skepticism among the Republican House majority going into the cost of US participation.

In an emotional moment in his speech on the House floor, Zelensky presented Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris with a Ukrainian flag he recovered from the fiercest battlefront of Bakhmut on Tuesday.

“Our heroes … asked me to bring this flag to you, the United States Congress, the members of the House of Representatives and the senators whose decisions can save millions of lives,” he said. “Therefore, let these decisions be made. Let this flag stay with you.”

Editor’s note: This entry was adapted from December. 22nd edition of CNN’s Meanwhile in America, the daily email on US politics for global readers. Read the full analysis here or click here to read past issues and subscribe.

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