Live updates of the Zelenskyy-Biden press conference and congressional address

Live updates of the Zelenskyy-Biden press conference and congressional address

UPDATE: Thursday, Dec 22, 2022 · 1:04:05 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

“May God bless Ukraine. My God bless the United States of America. Merry Christmas, and a happy victorious New Year.”

UPDATE: Thursday, Dec 22, 2022 · 1:02:55 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

“When I was in Bakhmut yesterday, our heroes gave me their battle flag. They asked me to bring this flag to you. To members of the U.S. Congress and Senators whose decisions can save millions of people. Let these decisions be taken. Let this flag stay with you, ladies and gentlemen. Let this flag be a symbol that we will win.”

UPDATE: Thursday, Dec 22, 2022 · 1:01:13 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

“Now, it’s special Christmas time. I want to thank you. I want to thank every American family who treasures its warmth, and wishes the same for other people. I thank President Biden. I thank both parties. I thank everyone who helped us. … From everyone at the front line, to everyone who is here, I thank you.”

UPDATE: Thursday, Dec 22, 2022 · 12:59:27 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

“I two days we will celebrate Christmas by candlelight. Not because it is more romantic, but because there is no electricity. Millions have no running water. This is the result of Russia’s attack on our infrastructure.” Zelenskyy goes on to say that America’s security is the result of it successfully fighting its war for independence and freedom, and that it what Ukraine must go through now.

“If Russian missiles, we will do our best to protect ourselves. If Russians attack with Iranian drones on Christmas eve, we will still sit down at a table and comfort ourselves. And millions of Ukrainians will with for the same thing: Victory. Only Victory.”

UPDATE: Thursday, Dec 22, 2022 · 12:58:52 AM +00:00 · kos

Just a reminder that literally 24 hours ago, Zelenskyy was in the city at the center of Russia’s fiercest assaults, Bakhmut.

Frankly, I don’t know how he’s still standing—jetlaged, and what must be 10 months of inadequate sleep and unimaginable stress. 

UPDATE: Thursday, Dec 22, 2022 · 12:56:26 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Zelenskyy says he discussed a ten point peace plan with Biden, and that Biden was in agreement with the points of that plan. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing the details of that soon.

UPDATE: Thursday, Dec 22, 2022 · 12:55:53 AM +00:00 · kos

There was an explicit request for American tanks and aircraft. The applause was more muted. 

UPDATE: Thursday, Dec 22, 2022 · 12:53:22 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

“Ukraine never asked American soldiers to fight on our lands instead of us. I assure you that Ukrainian soldiers can operate American tanks and planes themselves.”

UPDATE: Thursday, Dec 22, 2022 · 12:52:46 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

“We have artillery. Yes, thank you. Is it enough? Honestly, not really.” Zelenskyy explains how they have enough to defend positions, but not enough to push Russia back, and when Russia cannot reach cities with artillery, it uses missiles and drones. Speaking about the alliance of Russian and Iran. “That is how one terrorist found another. If we do not stop them now, they will strike against you and your allies.” 

UPDATE: Thursday, Dec 22, 2022 · 12:50:40 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

“Russia … sent thugs to the front line. They sent prisoners to the war. They threw everything they had against us… Just like the Americans who fought back Hitler’s forces [at the Battle of the Bulge] in 1944, Ukrainian soldiers are doing the same. Ukraine holds its lines, and will never surrender.”

UPDATE: Thursday, Dec 22, 2022 · 12:49:18 AM +00:00 · kos

^adding Rep. Tim Burchett, who’s seated alongside Boebert and Gaetz, to the above not-clapping list

— Ursula Perano (@UrsulaPerano) December 22, 2022

UPDATE: Thursday, Dec 22, 2022 · 12:49:04 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

ZELENSKYY now walking in to a huge applause from both sides of the aisle. Some members raising a Ukraine flag. Spotted not clapping: Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz. Boebert sat back down before the applause was over.

— Ursula Perano (@UrsulaPerano) December 22, 2022

UPDATE: Thursday, Dec 22, 2022 · 12:48:15 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Zelenskyy telling the story of the constant assault on Bakhmut. “Every inch of that land is soaked in blood. Guns roaring every hour. Trenches in that region have changed hands every day, but Bakhmut stands.”

UPDATE: Thursday, Dec 22, 2022 · 12:46:46 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

“Our two nations are allies in this battle. And next year will be the turning point, I know it. The point when Ukrainian courage and American resolve must guarantee the future of common freedom.”

UPDATE: Thursday, Dec 22, 2022 · 12:45:44 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

“This struggle will define what world our children and our grandchildren will live, and their children and grandchildren.”

UPDATE: Thursday, Dec 22, 2022 · 12:43:56 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

“Europe gained this victory … The Russian tyranny has lost control over us.”

UPDATE: Thursday, Dec 22, 2022 · 12:43:33 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Zelenskyy starts off by saying that the honor is too much for him, and belongs to his people. “Amidst doom and gloom scenarios, Ukraine didn’t fall. Ukraine is alive and thriving. … We defeated Russia in the battle for minds of the world. We have no fear. Nor should anyone in the world have it. Ukraine gained this victory, and it gives us courage. Americans gained this victory.”

UPDATE: Thursday, Dec 22, 2022 · 12:42:16 AM +00:00 · kos

Zelenskyy treated with sustained and rapturous applause. Imagine walking into the legislative chamber of the world’s sole real superpower, and being treated this way. It’s incredibly validating, not just to Zelenskyy personally, but what the brave Ukrainian people he represents. 

UPDATE: Thursday, Dec 22, 2022 · 12:30:18 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Speaker Pelosi and VP Harris have named committees from their respective chambers to escort Zelenskyy to the podium. As might be expected, there are members of both parties on the committees. 

Cabinet members are now entering and taking their seats.

UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec 21, 2022 · 11:53:53 PM +00:00 · kos

What a picture, at a brief presser when Zelenskyy first arrived at the Capitol.

If you remember, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Kyiv a month or so ago, so they’ve already met.

UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec 21, 2022 · 10:47:42 PM +00:00 · kos

Details on the new $1.8 billion military aid package to Ukraine announced today.

Another 🇺🇸 military aid package for the #UAarmy is not a Xmas present.These are what is necessary for work: on holidays & weekdays,during the day & night,in the snow,rain & heat. This is a struggle for life,liberty, the pursuit of happiness. TNX you @POTUS @SecDef & the 🇺🇸 people

— Oleksii Reznikov (@oleksiireznikov) December 21, 2022

Looks the United States found a new source of Soviet ammo. 152mm and 122mm artillery rounds are soviet standard, as are GRAD rockets. And that’s A LOT of GRAD rockets. Same with the tank ammunition, as all Ukrainian tanks are Soviet gear. 

UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec 21, 2022 · 10:43:56 PM +00:00 · kos

nfctjbh3 in the comments: “I love this guy. Where can I get a UA shirt like his!” I want one too!
UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec 21, 2022 · 10:39:31 PM +00:00 · kos

Video of the public part of the Biden-Zelenskyy meeting at the White House: 

Video of the press conference. Note, the press conference starts at around the 30 minute mark: 

UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec 21, 2022 · 10:30:50 PM +00:00 · kos

Biden asked by Ukrainian journalist, can the United States get ATACMS, “can we give Ukraine all capabilities that it needs, and Ukraine liberates all territories sooner rather than later.” Biden jokes: “His answer is yes.” Zelensky: “I agree.” 

Biden says the US has given Ukraine more than $20 billion in weapons, with another $1.8 billion approved today. The US is delivering the assistance Ukraine needs. You know me—I’ve defended the pace of weapons deliveries to Ukraine, talking extensively about the challenges of maintenance, supply, and sustainment. But this isn’t exactly true. 

Weirdly (or conveniently), Zelenskyy isn’t given a chance to address that question. And that’s it.

UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec 21, 2022 · 10:25:46 PM +00:00 · kos

Zelensky, the comedian, is asked about being in the White House a day after being in Bakhmut. He talks about his great relationship with Biden. “I can send messages to President Biden. For example, ‘what’s going to happen after Patriot is installed?’ After that, we will send another signal to President Biden that we would like to get more Patriots.” 

UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec 21, 2022 · 10:22:35 PM +00:00 · kos

CNN guy asks Biden what he got from his 2 ½ hour meeting with Zelenskyy. Great question. Biden says “all politics is personal, and there is no substitute for sitting down with a friend or a foe and looking at them in the eye.” CNN guys also asks about Russian threats to escalate if Ukraine got Patriot air defenses. Biden reminds everyone that the Patriot system is defensive. If Putin doesn’t like it, he can stop the attacks.

UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec 21, 2022 · 10:19:25 PM +00:00 · kos

Biden’s says “we both want this war to end. The war could end today if Putin had any dignity at all and said, ‘pull out.” But that’s not going to happen now. So what comes next? We talked about today we’ll continue to help Ukraine succeed on the battlefield with our help and the help of our European allies and others.” 

Ukraine hasn’t gotten many of the offensive weapons it needs. If that’s what Biden wants, hopefully they discussed F16 fighter jets, modern infantry fighting vehicles, and long-range ATAMCS rockets. When Ukraine gets those, that’s when we’ll know the US and the West are truly ready to end this war.

UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec 21, 2022 · 10:13:02 PM +00:00 · kos

Journalist below asks what a fair outcome to the war would be. Zelenskyy looks at Biden, Biden defers, says, “Your guy.” As Zelenskyy composes himself, Biden adds with a smile, “But I like him very much already.” The room laughs. Great energy. 

Zelenskyy: “I don’t know what a just peace is .. for me, as the president, is no compromises as the sovereignty, freedom, and integrity of my country. The payback for all the damages inflicted by Russian aggression.”

He adds, what is a “just peace” for those who have lost fathers and mothers. No money can compensate them. “The longer the war lasts, the longer this aggression lasts, the more parents who live for the sake of vengeance or revenge.” 

UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec 21, 2022 · 10:11:37 PM +00:00 · kos

Ukrainian journalist says he has questions, but starts with “I want to thank United States for supporting my country. You know, my family is in Ukraine, and I definitely understand they wouldn’t be alive today if America didn’t support my country both militarily and politically.” Incredibly touching, coming from the press side. 

UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec 21, 2022 · 10:10:18 PM +00:00 · kos

Biden is asked how he will keep the international coalition together in 2023. Biden says he’s “not at all worried about holding the alliance” together. He’s never seen them more unified. And honestly, that’s not spin. The alliance is rock solid at this time. “Putin thought he would weaken NATO, instead he strengthened NATO.” And it’s true, with Sweden and Finland joining, and now, for sure, Ukraine will as well. 

Zelenskyy is asked what his message to the American people is, Answers in English: “My message is I wish you peace.” He says he wants children safe at home, children graduating from university. “We really fight for our common victory. Again, this tyranny is real. And we will win together.”

UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec 21, 2022 · 10:02:32 PM +00:00 · kos

Zelenskyy: “I came here to the United States to thank the people of America, people who do so much for Ukraine.”

“I want to thank the Congress for bipartisan and bicameral support.”

Many have wondered why exactly Zelenskyy is visiting, and that’s pretty much it—he wants to lock down Congressional support in the face of the Republican takeover of the House. Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell was clear in his support for Ukraine. We haven’t heard that from the House or possible incoming House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. 

UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec 21, 2022 · 9:55:18 PM +00:00 · kos

Biden notes that 50 nations have collectively imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia, delivered over 2,000 armored vehicles, 800 artillery guns, 2 million artillery shells, “all to strengthen Ukraine.” 

The US has delivered billions more in direct budget support, and billions more from other allies. The US has helped support Ukrainian refugees. 221,000 Ukrainian refugees have currently settled in the U.S. 

Biden: “Ukraine has won the Battle of Kyiv, has won the Battle of Kherson, has won the Battle of Kharkiv. Ukraine has defied Russia’s expectations at every single turn.”

UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec 21, 2022 · 9:51:06 PM +00:00 · kos

Biden: “You will never stand alone. When Ukraine’s freedom was threatened, the American people, like generations of Americans before us, did not hesitate. The support from all across this country, Americans of every walk of life, Democrats and Republicans alike, had the resources to … provide unequivocal and unbending support for Ukraine.”

“We understand in our bones that Ukraine’s fight is part of something much bigger. The American people know that if we stand by in the face of such blatant attacks on liberty and democracy and the core principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, the world will surely face worse consequences.”

“As I said when Putin rolled his tanks in Ukraine in February, the American people are prepared to have us stand up to bullies, standup for freedom. That’s who we are as Americans.”

UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec 21, 2022 · 9:47:18 PM +00:00 · kos

Press conference begins at 4:45 ET. Biden welcomes Zelenskyy, says they’ve talked on the phone a lot, but nice to meet in person, “look each other in the eye.” Says Zelenskyy has inspired the American people, and the world. 

UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec 21, 2022 · 9:44:05 PM +00:00 · kos

The press conference hasn’t begun, but reportedly the one-on-one meeting between Biden and Zelenskyy has been ongoing the entire time, running well past schedule. Hopefully that signals good news. 

In what has become the most closely followed state visit since maybe the Pope, 44-year-old Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has taken Washington by storm. He has been meeting with President Joe Biden for the last couple of hours, and his schedule for the rest of the day is as follows:

4:30 PM: Joint press conference
6:15 PM: Zelenskyy arrives on Capitol Hill
7:30 PM: Zelenskyy gives address to a joint meeting of Congress

We’ll be covering it all live. 

In 10 months of war coverage, most of our focus has rightfully been on Ukraine’s brave defenders and populace standing strong in the face of unbearable adversity. Zelenskyy has gotten his fair share of praise, but this isn’t the kind of place that engages in hagiography. I’ve even criticized him at times, particularly for ignoring Biden’s warnings and leaving the northern approach to Kyiv undefended the weeks before the war began, and his stubborn defense of Severodonetsk in the summer. 

But today? Today is the Zelenskyy show, and well deserved for someone who is likely the most inspirational world leader since Nelson Mandela, and before that, Winston Churchill. 

So far, this is my favorite moment of the day: 

An Ukrainian captain of a HIMARS battery relays a gift to President Biden. #Ukraine #HIMARS

— (((Tendar))) (@Tendar) December 21, 2022

This harkens back to 2010, when former Lt. Dan Choi gave his West Point ring to then-Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid at Netroots Nation in protest of the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gay service members. Reid promised to return the ring after the policy was repealed, which he did

It would be great if Biden could personally, in person, return that medal to its rightful owner after the war is over. Preferably at a celebration in Kyiv. A man can dream, right? 

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