On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited his fighters in the front-line town of Bakhmut.
Samuel Schumacherforeign reporter
“I don’t need a taxi, I need ammunition,” Volodymyr Zelenskiy (44) said in February when the United States offered to fly him out of Ukraine and bring him to safe America. The fact that the Ukrainian president has stayed in Ukraine, despite being on Putin’s death list and despite increasingly unpredictable rocket and drone attacks, has done much to boost his hero status.
But now, less than 24 hours after his dangerous visit to the war front in the eastern Ukrainian Donbass city of Bakhmut, Selensky is on a plane to Washington DC, where he will meet US President Joe Biden (80) and address the American Parliament.
At the end of the week, US lawmakers will vote on a new aid package for Ukraine worth almost $50 billion: a vital grant of historic proportions. According to reports, the package also includes several “Patriot” anti-aircraft systems. They will allow Ukraine to repel almost all Russian missile and drone attacks. This means that Kiev’s wish for a no-fly zone over the country has been fulfilled.
Putin will see the visit foam
Zelensky knows that without sustained American support, Ukraine has no chance of surviving this war. And he knows about the symbolic power of his journey. Not even the biggest bargain hunters among the Republicans, who have hinted on various occasions that they want to cut aid to Ukraine in favor of support money for Americans, are unlikely to be able to resist the bellicose charm of the gifted orator from Kyiv.
But not only the Americans will be impressed by the Ukrainian president’s trip overseas. Vladimir Putin (70), who is already under pressure in Moscow because of his sluggish «special military operation», will also look spellbound to Washington. While the Kremlin ruler has to be content with visits to his blustering dictator friend Alexander Lukashenko (68) in cold, wet Minsk, his Ukrainian counterpart is being courted by the most powerful country in the world and received with all honors on the country’s most famous political stage.
Zelensky provides moral ammunition
That will piss Putin off. And he won’t skimp on his acts of revenge. Ukraine must prepare for new deadly salvos from the Russian missile cellars. Moscow will see its war lie confirmed and loudly trumpet: “We told you: the whole world is against us! The Americans are attacking Russia!”
However, Volodymyr Zelenskiy will not be deterred by this and will return to Ukraine with a new military aid package from the USA. The return of the hunted to his homeland should cement Zelenski’s heroic status once and for all, even among his few critics in Ukraine.
He, who does not shy away from going to the front at the height of the war; he who, despite being overtired and overburdened, still speaks calmly to his people every day; he who, despite open doors in American exile, endures the hard everyday life in Ukraine: In this all-decisive, approaching winter, he provides his fighters with what they so urgently need in addition to the American air defense systems: sincere moral ammunition.