New Delhi: In an address to the US Congress Wednesday night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy predicted that next year will be a turning point in the war against Russia, and the battle of Bakhmut will be key.
Countries of the Global South need to be saved from “Russian tyranny”, he said. The Global South is generally seen as home to Brazil, India, Indonesia and China, among others.
“Ukraine didn’t fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking,” said Zelenskyy, who is on his first known trip outside Ukraine since the onset of the Russian invasion in February this year.
While appealing for further American support and aid amid the conflict, the Ukrainian leader also made references to the Battle of Saratoga (1777) — a key event in the American Revolution — and the Battle of the Bulge (1944-45) — the last major German offensive during World War II.
His address came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin described the conflict in Ukraine as a “shared tragedy” but blamed Kyiv and its Western allies for it.
Zelenskyy, meanwhile, repeatedly referred to Russia as a “terrorist state” in his address, adding that it would be “naïve” to expect peace from Moscow.
The war in Ukraine is nearing the 10-month mark and despite assumptions that the Russian invasion would be swift, Kyiv’s forces have managed to recapture key Russian strongholds such as the city of Kherson.
Intense fighting continues in Bakhmut, a city in Donetsk Oblast that found frequent mention in the Ukrainian leader’s address to the US Congress.
Towards the end of Zelenskyy’s speech, US Vice President Kamala Harris and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi raised a flag of Ukraine gifted by Ukrainian soldiers from Bakhmut.
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‘Fight for Bakhmut will be key’
“Next year will be a turning point, I know it, the point when Ukrainian courage and American resolve must guarantee the future of our common freedom, the freedom of people who stand for their values,” Zelenskyy said.
Noting that Bakhmut — a Ukrainian stronghold in the east of the country — will be key in the trajectory of the war, he told the US Congress, “The Russian military and mercenaries have been taking Bakhmut nonstop since May. They have been taking it day and night, but Bakhmut stands.”
“The fight for Bakhmut will change the trajectory of our war for independence and for freedom,” he added.
The Ukrainian leader also drew comparisons between Nazi Germany during World War II and Russia, by referring to the Battle of the Bulge.
“The Russians’ tactic is primitive. They burn down and destroy everything they see. They sent thugs to the front lines. They sent convicts to the war. They threw everything against us, similar to the other tyranny, which is in the Battle of the Bulge,” he said.
The Battle of the Bulge, fought from 16 December 1944 to 25 January 1945, was a major German counteroffensive against Allied Powers towards the end of World War II. The battle witnessed heavy fighting throughout the Christmas holiday season that year.
“…just like the brave American soldiers who held their lines and fought back Hitler’s forces during the Christmas of 1944. Brave Ukrainian soldiers are doing the same to Putin’s forces this Christmas,” said Zelenskyy.
‘Global South needs victory from Russian tyranny’
The Ukrainian President noted that his country has defeated Russia in the proverbial battlefield of the mind, adding that countries of the Global South too should be free of “Russian tyranny”.
“The Russian tyranny has lost control over us. And it will never influence our minds again. Yet, we have to do whatever it takes to ensure that countries of the Global South also gain such victory,” he said.
In his address, Zelenskyy also hit out at Iran, seen as one of Russia’s allies in the war, accusing Tehran of taking part in Moscow’s “genocide” against Ukrainians.
“Russia found an ally in this — in this genocidal policy: Iran. Iranian deadly drones sent to Russia in hundreds — in hundreds, became a threat to our critical infrastructure,” he said. Reports indicate that Tehran has been supplying Russia with Shahed-136 kamikaze drones in the war in Ukraine.
Throughout his speech, the Ukrainian President did not mention Putin, except in a veiled joke. “We’ll put in place everyone who will defy freedom. Put-in,” he said.
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)
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