Zelensky returns home to Ukraine after hero’s welcome in Washington: Live updates

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At a joint meeting of Congress, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine had won a victory over Russia “in the battle for the minds of the world” and in strong terms called on lawmakers for more military aid.creditCredit…Haiyun Jiang / The New York Times

Kyiv, Ukraine – President Volodymyr Zelensky was returning to Ukraine on Thursday after a high-profile visit to Washington that was welcomed home with pride and hopes that his impassioned appeals in person would keep the guns and financial support americans

Amid the darkness and cold of Russian missile attacks that have knocked out power for millions as winter sets in, and after weeks of gridlock across much of the front line, the journey presidential surprise strengthened morale in Ukraine. Some Ukrainians said they were glad to see members of Congress sing during Mr. The appearance of Zelensky the patriotic greeting, “Glory to the heroes!”

“Friends, everything will be fine, Ukraine will be fine, they will give us everything, they will help us,” Valeriy Tryhub, a ski instructor, wrote in a Facebook post.

Contacted by phone later, Mr. Tryhub said he stayed up until 2:30 a.m. to watch Mr. Zelensky’s address to a joint session of Congress, where the Ukrainian president received a standing ovation and presented Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a Ukrainian flag that had been signed by soldiers.

“This is, without exaggeration, a historic event,” said Mr. Zelensky’s visit, his first trip abroad since the invasion of Russia in February.

“Now, more than ever, we need world support in the fight for independence,” said Mr. Tryhub added. “The United States is one of the many countries that finally realized that without foreign support, we cannot win. So we need help, especially because we have common values ​​like democracy and freedom.”

Credit…Tom Brenner for The New York Times

On his return from Washington, Mr. Zelensky landed in Poland on Thursday, where he said he met with President Andrzej Duda. He was returning to Ukraine with at least one tangible gain: an additional $1.8 billion in military aid announced Wednesday, including a battery of Patriot missiles, one of the most advanced air defense systems.

But congressional passage of an omnibus spending bill, which includes nearly $50 billion in additional funding for Ukraine, was delayed late Wednesday night because of an impasse over immigration policy.

Still, it was a mostly triumphant, quietly planned visit for Mr. Zelensky, a former comic actor who was elected in a landslide in 2019 but whose popularity was falling before Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February. Mr. Zelensky remained in Kyiv even as the capital looked set to fall, and most Ukrainians quickly put politics aside to rally around their president.

“All my life, I never imagined that the president of Ukraine would address Congress,” Tetiana Bisyk, a writer, tweeted on Thursday, adding: “I’m so proud to be Ukrainian.”

Artur Bilous, a political analyst, wrote on Facebook that while “no Ukrainian president has ever been received like this” in Washington, Mr. Finally, Zelensky’s trip would be a success if it helps speed up the flow of weapons.

“In particular, how quickly the military aid will be delivered, first of all the Patriot air defense system,” said Mr. Bilous wrote.

Overall, the reaction in Ukraine was one of pride and hope, and continued defiance of Russia.

“Putin, I hope you are watching this in real time,” Kira Rudik, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, tweeted to Russian President Vladimir V. Putin. “We. Will. To win.”

Maria Varenikova contributed reporting from Kyiv.

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