February 8, 2023

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The Ukrainian leader tried to convey the reality of the war to Washington.

During his dramatic all-day visit to Washington, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attempted to bring the sounds and smells of the war’s frontlines to decision-makers in the White House and Congress, who he said had the ability to ensure Ukraine’s victory speed up and bring the war to an end.

“Every inch of this country is soaked in blood; roaring cannons ring out every hour,” he said of Bakhmut in the east of the country, where his army is holding out in one of the war’s bloodiest campaigns. “The Russians’ tactics are primitive. They burn down and destroy everything they see.”

While support for Ukraine has broad support in Congress, some Republican lawmakers have been outspoken about their opposition to sending more money abroad. While it wasn’t immediately clear whether Mr. Zelensky’s pleas had changed her mind, he did take home at least one significant boost: a pledge to supply Ukraine with an advanced Patriot air defense system that will improve Ukraine’s ability to counter to counteract missiles and drones that Russia fires at the country’s energy infrastructure, exacerbating civilian suffering when temperatures plummet in winter.

“If your patriots stop Russian terror against our cities, Ukrainian patriots will work fully to defend our freedom,” the Ukrainian leader said in his speech to Congress. “When Russia cannot reach our cities with its artillery, it tries to destroy them with rocket attacks.”

The trip, a risky move secretly coordinated, was also a projection of strength and confidence amid the daily blare of air raid sirens from Russian attacks and ongoing power outages.

“Every word was charged with overwhelming energy and spirit of Ukraine,” said Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. wrote on Twitter. “May it inspire millions of people across the United States and around the world to protect what we all hold dear: freedom.”