- [Announcer] And with the ongoing support of these institutions.
(bright upbeat music) This program was made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you.
- President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine is in Washington this evening.
A surprise visit to his nation's most important partner in its fight against Russia.
He met this afternoon with President Biden and will address Congress later tonight.
The visit comes as lawmakers consider major funding increase for Ukraine and as the Biden administration sends more weapons to aid the war effort.
- Welcome back, sir.
- [Judy] In a visit the world is watching, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy traveled outside the borders of his battered country for his first known trip abroad since Russia invaded in February.
- Well, Mr. President, it's good to have you back.
- [Judy] His decision to come to Washington on Day 301 of the war reinforces the partnership between the U.S. and Ukraine that Zelenskyy sees as critical.
On Twitter he said he would meet with President Biden to quote, "Strengthen resilience and defense capabilities "of Ukraine."
He took that same message Tuesday to Ukrainian troops in the city of Bakhmut, the sight of pitched and brutal fighting in the East.
(Volodymyr speaking in foreign language) - [Translator] It is a complicated situation.
The enemy increases the number of its troops.
We will pass on gratitude from our boys to the U.S. Congress and U.S. president for their support but it is not enough.
- [Judy] Ukrainians reacted to news of Zelenskyy's visit, trusting their leader to secure what the country needs.
(Hanna speaking in foreign language) - [Translator] We hope for support as the United States is one of our main partners.
After his trip to Bakhmut which is my home city, I hope Zelenskyy will be able to share his firsthand experience about what's going on there, how our cities are being ruined, how our people are being killed.
I think no one in the U.S. can remain careless and that support will only grow.
- [Judy] Russia has hammered Ukraine with missiles and drone strikes in recent weeks as Moscow shifted its strategy to inflict even more pain on Ukraine's people, repeatedly taking down the electrical grid amid freezing winter cold.
But more air defense is on its way.
The U.S. announced today that it would provide an additional $1.8 billion in military aid to Ukraine with for the first time, a patriot missile battery and precision-guided bombs for fighter jets.
With those, the U.S. aims to help Ukraine bolster both its air defense and attack capabilities.
Meanwhile, Russia send a stark warning against further American military aid to Ukraine.
(Dmitry speaking in foreign language) - [Translator] Weapons supplies continue, the assortment of supplied weapons is expanding.
All this leads to an aggravation of the conflict and does not bode well for Ukraine.
- [Judy] And in a speech to top military leaders, Russia's President Vladimir Putin vowed to continue the war no matter what.
(Vladimir speaking in foreign language) - Of course, combat and military actions always bring tragedy and human losses but since it is inevitable, it is better that it happens today than tomorrow.
I have no doubt that all the goals we set ourselves will be achieved.
- All my appreciations from my heart, from the heart of Ukrainians, all Ukrainians.
- [Judy] Back at the White House, Zelenskyy thank the U.S. for support and presented President Biden with a medal won by a Ukrainian officer given at the officer's request.
Later standing side by side with Zelenskyy, President Biden said the new aid package would send a powerful message to Putin.
- He was wrong, wrong and wrong.
He continues to be wrong.
The sooner it is clear that he cannot possibly win this war, that's when the time we have to put this president in a position to be able to decide how he wants the war to end.
- [Judy] They spoke about weapons, energy sanctions, and support for peace talks.
Zelenskyy urged the U.S. to stay engaged in the war and in its support of Ukraine.
- We really fight for our common victory against this tyranny that is real life and we will win and I really want win together.
Thanks so much.
Not want, sorry, I'm sure.
- His last stop is his first in-person address to Congress where he will ask lawmakers not to forget about Ukraine.
(bright upbeat music) In the day's other news, as President Zelenskyy arrived, the U.S. Senate confirmed Lynne Tracy as the new American ambassador to Russia.
She sailed through on a 93 to two vote in a signal of U.S. solidarity with Ukraine.
Tracy is a career diplomat and the first woman to be U.S. ambassador to Moscow.
A second massive winter storm in as many weeks is rolling into the nation's midsection tonight.
The system is on track to bring blizzard conditions to the northern plains and the Midwest and frigid conditions all the way to Florida by Friday.
Heavy snow already blanketed parts of Washington state and western Canada.
Some 200 million people across the U.S. are now under extreme weather alerts.
Along the U.S. southern border, thousands of migrants waited again today looking for the end of a pandemic era ban on asylum.
For now, the so-called Title 42 restrictions on legal protection once migrants enter, remain in force pending a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
In the meantime, many migrants have been camped out in the cold just inside Mexico.
Some say they can't wait much longer.
(Elis speaking in foreign language) - [Translator] I'm going to ask for permission to see if they let me enter legally, and if not then I'm gonna try to stay to see if they give me asylum and if not, then migrate.
Because I wanted to get ahead for my children.
And honestly, I've lost a lot of time already.
- The Biden administration has asked the Supreme Court to let Title 42 lapse but not until after Christmas.
States supporting the restrictions have warned that ending them would overwhelm services and shelters.
In Britain, growing labor troubles became even more serious today as ambulance workers went on strike across England and Wales.
They staged the one day walkout to demand better staffing and higher wages in the face of soaring inflation.
Paramedics insisted they had still answer lifesaving calls.
- Nobody takes this lightly.
I've been talking to people inside, nobody wants to be on strike.
We hate it like we don't want patients to suffer.
I certainly don't.
I'm not withdrawing my labor today but I thought it's important to stand in solidarity, send the message out.
- The ambulance crews plan another one day strike next week.
Nurses have already held two walkouts this month.
Elon Musk now says that he is ready to let someone else run Twitter.
That's after users asked him to step down in an online poll.
Musk tweeted today that I will resign as CEO as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job.
The billionaire's take over of Twitter with sudden policy shifts as unnerved users and advertisers.
On Wall Street, stocks finally rallied on a report that showed consumer confidence improving.
Major indexes were up 1.5% or better.
The Dow Jones Industrial average gained 526 points to close at 33,376.
The NASDAQ Rose 162 points, the S&P 500 added 56.
And pro football great Franco Harris has died.
He was a Hall of fame running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers who won four Super Bowls in the 1970s.
In 1972, Harris made the legendary play dubbed The Immaculate Reception, scooping up a deflected last second pass to score and win a playoff game.
Franco Harris was 72 years old.
Still to come on the "NewsHour", Ukraine's president prepares to address Congress as the war grinds on.
A congressional committee votes to release former President Trump's tax returns.
Two film critics give their takes on the best movies of 2022 plus much more.
- [Announcer] This is the "PBS NewsHour" from WETA Studios in Washington and in the west from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.
- Late today, the January 6th Committee released transcripts of nearly three dozen of the more than 1,000 interviews they conducted during the 18-month long investigation into the capitol attack and President Trump's role.
The Congressional Committee will be releasing its final report tomorrow.
Jeff Bennett has more.
- Judy, the reports released tomorrow comes after committee members held their final business hearing where they referred former President Donald Trump to the Department of Justice on four criminal charges; obstructing an official proceeding, making false statements, defrauding the U.S. and inciting and insurrection.
Joining us to discuss what we can expect in the full report is January 6th Committee member, Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin.
It's good to have you with us.
And congressman, we expected the full report to be released today.
We learned late in the day that it's actually coming tomorrow.
What accounts for the delay?
- And I believe that there were printing issues at the government printing office and so it got pushed into the evening and we decided to just wait till tomorrow early in the day.
- So when that full report does arrive, how will it to include the transcripts, all of the witness interviews, all of the underlying evidence gathered by your committee over the last 18 months.
How will that full report expand the public knowledge, the public understanding of what transpired on January 6th and who ultimately bears responsibility?
- Well, it will supply a lot of details and a lot of color to the basic elements of the story that the public I think already understands.
We have a president of the United States who refused to take no for an answer from the American people who gave more than seven million more votes to Joe Biden than they did to Donald Trump.
It was 306 to 232 in the electoral college.
The same margin that Trump had defeated Hillary by in 2016 which Trump had declared an absolute landslide but he wasn't going to take no for an answer.
And so he began a multi-pronged assault on the election.
He tried to get the legislatures to overturn it.
So the whole story is told in detail in our report, that doesn't mean we got everything because there were a bunch of people who blew off their subpoenas or came in and took the Fifth Amendment but we certainly understand every basic element of the assault on democracy and how 150 of our officers came to be wounded and injured by the mob that Donald Trump whipped up on the ellipse.
- A question about information sharing because the Justice Department has been conducting its own wide-ranging investigation into the insurrection and the efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the election.
The January 6th Committee is now sharing evidence with federal prosecutors who for months were critical of the panel for refusing to send over witness interview transcripts and other information.
Why not share that information earlier in the process?
- Well, look, we were working on our own investigation and these things are enormously time consuming and our staff was overburdened and staggering under the weight of the work as it was.
So we've gotten to the end, we've made it clear we were gonna turn over to the Department of Justice all relevant information that they're seeking.
And indeed we want the whole public to be able to see exactly what we've learned from this bipartisan inquiry into the worst violent domestic assault on the peaceful transfer of power and Congress and the vice president in our history.
- As you mentioned, the January 6th Committee referred four members of Congress, all Republicans, to the House Ethics Committee for ignoring congressional subpoenas.
The Ethics Committee is unique in that the membership is evenly divided between each political party, an equal number of Republicans and Democrats.
Still, Republicans are set to take control of the House in a couple of weeks time.
Do you expect this committee to operate in a nonpartisan fashion regarding these referrals?
- Well, no, I wouldn't expect them to operate in a nonpartisan fashion.
I would expect them to operate in a bipartisan fashion because I'm realistic about that.
But I do think that there's a profound problem that is posed by members of Congress who receive a congressional subpoena to come and to give information and to testify about what they know, who just blow it off and refuse to do that.
That's a very serious problem.
Congress issues subpoenas and we expect people to comply with them under the rule of law.
What does it do to the credibility of Congress and our ability to enforce our own subpoenas if we have members of Congress who don't even respect that process enough to show up and at least to assert some kind of legal immunity or constitutional privilege if they think they've got it.
- Lastly, the executive summary of the committee's spinal report, the executive summary that came out this past week, it doesn't address questions of why the FBI, why U.S. Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies didn't do more to increase security on that day.
Will we get more clarity on that issue when the final report comes out?
- Yeah, the final report has a lot more detail on analysis of different things that people said about that.
There clearly was information coming in through different law enforcement and intelligence channels that there were going to be large numbers of people coming to Washington and many of them on the extremist websites were saying that they wanted to storm the Capitol or attack the Capitol or attack officers and so on.
And of course, the president of the United States ultimately is the chief of the executive branch of government but he had no interest in defending us in this case as we saw on January 6th itself when the riot was actually underway, the attack on his own vice president and members of Congress was underway and he did nothing.
He didn't get in touch with the FBI, didn't get in touch with the joint chiefs of staff, he didn't get in touch with the police and so on.
So clearly he wasn't doing anything before that.
And then other different individuals did different things and we discuss it but overall, it was simply not up to the task of dealing with the size of the crowd, the mob that came to attack the Capitol as incited by Donald Trump.
And so that's a serious problem that we'll have to look at.
None of that absolves or exonerates Donald Trump in any way of what he did because he was the one who unleashed the whole sequence of events.
He called for the rally right at the exact same time Congress was meeting in the joint session under the 12th Amendment.
He urged everybody to come for a wild protest and became the first president in American history to try to assemble a crowd quickly to become a mob, to attack the peaceful transfer of power.
So he's the one who's responsible for it.
It's like a bank robbery where you've got a mastermind of a bank robbery take place and the bank is robbed and then you ask questions afterwards about, well, were there people who are somehow cooperating with it or were there people who should have done something differently?
How could we fortify ourselves in the future?
All those are legitimate questions but none of them absolve Donald Trump of his central culpability in this matter.
- Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin, member of the January 6th Congressional Committee, thanks as always for your time.
- You bet.
(bright upbeat music) - We return now to our top story tonight, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's surprise trip to Washington.
He met earlier today with President Biden at The White House.
And for more on their meeting, we're joined by Amanda Sloat, she is the National Security Council Senior Director for Europe.
Amanda Sloat, hello, welcome back to the "NewsHour".
So we know some of this trip was certainly symbolic to thank the President, to thank the American people, but we also know it was about talking to the president and others about needing more help.
How would you split up the purpose of it?
- I think it certainly did both of those things.
President Biden spoke to this in the press conference saying that nothing beats face-to-face interaction with fellow leaders.
President Zelenskyy of course, was here in Washington last September.
The two presidents have had a number of phone calls throughout the course of the war but this was the first time for them to be able to speak face-to-face.
And I think it was really important for President Zelenskyy to be able to check in with President Biden to discuss the progress that his forces have made on the battlefield, to discuss the security assistance that the United States has been providing and how that has been helping Ukrainian forces and then to talk about the way forward.
- We just spoke a few minutes ago on the program with two analysts who talked about what they understand to be what the Ukrainians are asking for, both more air defense, help and more offensive capability.
How would you break that down?
I mean, what are they asking for and what is the administration prepared to consider?
- I think President Zelenskyy's main message in the meeting to President Biden and I think his message in Congress tonight was of one of appreciation for all of the support that had been given.
As President Zelenskyy made clear in the press conference, he sees this victory as very much a joint one with his forces on the ground and the security assistance from the United States.
We have been focused throughout this conflict on ensuring that the security assistance we provide meets the needs of the Ukrainian forces on the ground as the war evolves.
And certainly as Russia has stepped up its brutal attacks on Ukraine's critical infrastructure, air defense has become ever more important.
So this is a capability that we have been working to give the Ukrainians and today's announcement by the President of a Patriot battery certainly is a big component of that as well as a renewed commitment to continue engaging our allies and partners to provide that.
The nearly $2 billion security assistance package announced today also includes more ammunition and artillery.
So today's package was a step toward addressing their needs both on the defensive side as well as on the artillery and ammunition side as well.
- Well, the Patriot systems certainly do address their needs what they say are their needs on the defensive side.
How much further though is the administration prepared to go?
At one point today, President Biden at that news conference, spoke about providing longer range weaponry risk breaking up NATO.
To what extent is that a concern for The White House?
- So we have continued to adjust the security assistance that we have provided to meet the needs on the ground.
If you remember back 300 days ago when this war started, it was Russian tanks that were rolling towards Kyiv and at that point providing anti-tank and anti Armour systems was what the Ukrainians needed and that was what we've provided.
And certainly the war has continued to evolve.
Part of the security assistance package that we provided today included new capabilities including these aerial precision munitions which does give the Ukrainians an additional tool in their arsenal which is gonna help them on the battlefield.
- Is it fair to say Amanda Sloat that there are ongoing conversations though about beefing that up, about doing more for the Ukrainians as they think about wanting to strike deeper into the Russian front?
- So far we have seen the Ukrainians make very good use of the capabilities that we have been giving them including these HIMARS and Gimlet systems and ammunitions.
And we committed in today's security assistance package to give them more of that.
But certainly as we have throughout the conflict, we will continue very active conversations with the Ukrainians as the situation on the field evolves.
- So it it sounds like at this point, the administration's not prepared to say what might be possible down the road because it's pretty clear the Ukrainians are asking for more as time goes by.
- You know, today we announced one of our biggest security assistance packages to date continuing to work with Congress as they finalize the supplemental budget which will hopefully continue to give us the security assistance funds that we need to go into the year.
We will continue providing the Ukrainians with the assistance that they need on the battlefields and will continue to remain in close touch with their military as we have been.
As the situation evolves, their needs evolves and the counter offensives continue into the winter and then the following months.
- To what extent is President Biden, is the administration concerned about support at some point weakening for the war that Ukraine is waging against Russia, it's now been almost a year, it will be in February, how deep are the frankly, American pockets to continue to support the war?
- President Biden has been clear from the beginning and he reaffirmed that both privately and publicly to President Zelenskyy that the United States is gonna continue to support and stand with Ukraine as long as it takes.
I don't wanna get ahead of the congressional deliberations but certainly they have been working on a very sizable package of funding that would enable the administration to continue supporting the Ukrainians in terms of their security assistance needs as well as their economic needs and humanitarian side.
So to date, we continue to have very strong bipartisan support for Ukraine and for their cause and we remain confident here that that's going to continue.
- As I mentioned, you're the National Security Council senior person for Europe.
It's clear that the Europeans are not doing as much for Ukraine as the Americans have been.
They've certainly provided some support, what kind of conversations is the administration having with Europeans about doing more?
- The Europeans certainly have stepped up to help the Ukrainians.
It is certainly true that the United States is the biggest provider of security assistance but there's a large number of countries in Europe and more broadly that have also contributed capabilities to the Ukrainians.
The Europeans certainly have borne the brunt of the refugee crisis.
Many of them are housing upwards of millions of Ukrainians.
They have also been a very strong partner in terms of the implementation of sanctions and again, with some of their economic impacts have really borne the economic costs of that and have continued to do things on the energy front as well.
We convened a Ukraine Defense Contact Group that meets regularly and as part of today's announcement, we'll be continuing to encourage our allies and partners, especially on the air defense side, as well as to continue providing them with the artillery, the ammunition and other capabilities that they need.
- Last thing I do wanna ask you about Vladimir Putin, he's given no indication that he's prepared to slow down, that he's just prepared to push and push as long as it takes from his perspective.
But do you see, is there any knowledge the administration has, any intelligence, that there's some light at the end of this tunnel or is it just flat out conflict as far as the eye can see?
- Certainly nothing that President Putin has said or done gives any indication that he is prepared to end this conflict anytime soon.
We are seeing this with continued stepped up brutal attacks on civilian infrastructure and Ukraine's energy grid, especially heading into to winter.
So we remain committed to supporting Ukraine with the security assistance that it needs and we also support President Zelenskyy's continued public conversation about a just peace and what he sees as the essential principles that would be needed to bring this war to a close in a way that would be just.
- [Judy] Well, we are going to leave it there.
Amanda Sloat who is the National Security Council Senior Director for Europe.
Thank you very much for joining us.
- Thank you.
(bright upbeat music) - As we reported earlier, Ukraine's President Zelenskyy is about to address the U.S. Congress.
We are going to give stations who are airing "NewsHour" at another time a chance to join so we'll be back momentarily.
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(bright upbeat music) - Good evening and welcome to this "PBS NewsHour" special, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's address to the United States Congress.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
The president of Ukraine landed in Washington a few hours ago, his first trip out of Ukraine since the Russian invasion in late February.
He met with President Biden at the White House earlier and at a press conference afterward, Mr. Biden said that the $1.8 billion in additional aid, Patriot missiles and precision-guided bombs that the U.S. providing Ukraine would send a powerful message to Russia's President Vladimir Putin.
Shortly, President Zelenskyy will address a joint meeting of Congress.
You can see these live pictures now from the House of Representatives.
We are waiting for President Zelenskyy to arrive.
We are told and you can see it here in this live video picture, that members of Congress are gathered, a number of them in the aisles waiting to greet President Zelenskyy, pretty much to give him a hero's welcome given the way the Ukrainian people and he as head of government have conducted this war, surprising the Russians making this a much, much tougher challenge than the Russians expected at the beginning.
You can see them lined up there in the isles of the House of Representatives.
So as we wait for President Zelenskyy to enter the House chamber, I am joined by two guests.
They are retired Lieutenant General Douglas Lute.
He had a 35 year career in the Army.
He served on the National Security Council staff during the George W. Bush and the Obama administrations.
And Stephen Sestanovich, he's a professor at Columbia University and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
He was ambassador at large for the former Soviet Union during the Clinton administration.
Welcome to both of you.
We're gonna keep focused on those pictures in the House chamber so we can see as President Zelenskyy enters.
But Steve Sestanovich, let me start with you.
We see House speaker Nancy Pelosi of course, and Vice President Kamala Harris there at the dais waiting to greet President Zelenskyy.
Steve Sestanovich, what's the purpose seen of this visit by President Zelenskyy?
- Well, Zelenskyy comes to town in order to get a hero's welcome.
He's gonna get that from the Congress.
He also wants to deflect pressure from some parts of Congress to reduce assistance.
And we shouldn't forget this, he also wants to encourage Congress to push the administration for more assistance because there are plenty of members of Congress who think the administration is being too slow, they're too cautious and he wants them to tell the administration, look, let's get on with it.
We need to support the Ukrainians against the Russians.
- And Doug Lute, you talked to members of Congress I know a good deal.
You've been dealing with the stresses and strains and tensions between a White House and a Congress.
What kind of conversations could President Zelenskyy have while he is here?
We don't know every detail of the visit but are those the kinds of conversations that could make a difference, Doug Lute?
- I think absolutely and especially right now, Judy, because of course, in these last days of this congress before the Christmas holiday and then eventually the change of Congress with the New Year, there's a omnibus or overall spending bill pending congressional approval.
In that bill is 45 billion additional dollars of assistance to Ukraine.
So the most tactical, immediate payoff of this visit to the joint session this evening, is to put pressure on approval for that spend.
- And so, just staying with you for a moment, Doug Lute, are we saying that just the very fact that President Zelenskyy is here, that he's making these remarks to the Congress, are you saying that could make a difference?
I mean, President Zelenskyy and we're all about to see this, right?
Up close and personal.
He is very authentic, he is genuine, he is persuasive.
He's an iconic wartime leader, that's gonna make an impression on the members of Congress.
- And Steve Sestanovich, we're used to seeing these live scenes from the House of Representatives waiting for a president to come down the aisle.
It's typically a president of the United States, it's not normal for the Congress to open its doors and welcome a foreign leader.
But this is an a case where the United States has backed this conflict, this war, has backed Ukraine from the very beginning and even before that.
So this is really the first opportunity the members of Congress have had to hear from him in person.
He's addressed the Congress virtually from Ukraine but this is the first time in person so there's almost an air of excitement, isn't there?
- Oh, for sure.
That's why you've got so many members dressed in Ukrainian colors, yellow and blue.
I'm kind of surprised that the speaker and the vice president aren't in Ukrainian colors.
This is the kind of event that the Congress has been staging for 80 years since Winston Churchill has spoke here after Pearl Harbor.
I mean, the Congress is the forum for a foreign leader who is counting on strong support from the U.S. government to try to galvanize that support.
But as Doug and I've been saying, he also wants to put pressure on them to take specific actions.
Typically, when a foreign leader comes here, he doesn't have some immediate legislative agenda in mind.
But this time he does.
- And for sure, and again, a reminder that this is one of those rare instances in Washington these days where there's bipartisan support for something.
We just saw the Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer walk down the aisle with the Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and they were both smiling and laughing, we don't know what that was about.
They may be announcing President Zelenskyy's arrival right now.
We can't tell, we can't see everyone coming in.
There he is.
Yes, that was President Zelenskyy dressed in his traditional fatigues.
What we see him wearing when we see him appearing on television frequently from Ukraine.
There he is.
You can see a number of members of Congress again, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell there seated on opposite sides of the aisle.
And as we say, you can't stress enough, is one of the rare moments when the two sides are in some agreement.
So here he is, he's greeting vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
And receiving what is clearly a warm welcome from both sides of the aisle in the House.
And again, they're in the House chamber, these are House members but also members of the Senate.
(Congress applauding) He flew out of Ukraine earlier today, first time he has left his home country since Russia invaded back in February.
So that very fact alone makes a statement.
He flew across the Atlantic, arrived early afternoon in Washington, met with President Biden, two of them met for several hours.
They've met the press and here he is to address the Congress.
(Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) - [Nancy] Members- (Congress applauding) Members of Congress.
- I think it's too much.
- I think you do.
Members of Congress, I have the high privilege and the distinct honor of presenting to you his Excellency, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of the Ukraine.
(Congress applauding) - Thank you so much.
(Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) Thank you so much, thank you.
It's too much for me.
All this for our great people, thank you so much.
Dear Americans, in all states, cities and communities, all those who value freedom and justice, who cherish it as strongly as we Ukrainians in all our cities, in each and every family, I hope my words of respect and gratitude resonate in each American heart.
Madam Vice President, I thank you for your efforts in helping Ukraine.
Madam Speaker, you bravely visited Ukraine during the full fledged war.
Thank you very much.
A great honor.
(Congress applauding) Great privilege to be here.
Dear members of the Congress, representatives of both parties who also visited Kyiv, esteemed congressmen and senators from both parties who will visit Ukraine I'm sure in the future, dear representatives of diaspora, (Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) present in this chamber and spread across the country, dear journalists, it's a great honor for me to be at a U.S. Congress and speak to you and all Americans.
Against all odds and doom and gloom scenarios, Ukraine didn't fall.
Ukraine is alive and kicking.
(Congress applauding) Thank you.
(Congress applauding) And it gives me good reason to share with you our first joined victory.
We defeated Russia in the battle for minds of the world.
(Congress applauding) We have no fear nor should anyone in the world have it.
Ukrainians gained this victory and it gives us courage which inspires the entire world.
Americans gained this victory and that's why you have succeeded in uniting the global community to protect freedom and international law.
Europeans gained this victory and that's why Europe is now stronger and more independent than ever.
The Russian tyranny has lost control over us (Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) 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.
I know one more I think very important thing, the Russians will stand a chance to be free only when they defeat the Kremlin in their minds.
(Congress applauding) Yet, the battle continues and we have to defeat the Kremlin on the battlefield, yes.
This battle is not only for the territory for this or another part of Europe, the battle is not only for life, freedom and security of Ukrainians or any other nation which Russia attempts to conquer.
This struggle will define in what world our children and grandchildren will live and then their children and grandchildren.
It will define whether it will be a democracy for Ukrainians and for Americans for all.
This battle cannot be frozen or postponed.
It cannot be ignored hoping that the ocean or something else will provide a protection.
From the United States to China, from Europe to Latin America, and from Africa to Australia, the world is too interconnected and interdependent to allow someone to stay aside and at the same time to feel safe when such a battle continues.
Our two nations are allies in this battle.
And 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.
(Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) Ladies and Gentlemen, ladies and Gentlemen, Americans, yesterday before coming here to Washington DC, I was at the frontline, in our Bakhmut.
In our stronghold in the East of Ukraine, in the Donbas.
The Russian military and mercenaries have been attacking Bakhmut non-stop since May.
They have been attacking it day and night but Bakhmut stands.
(Congress applauding) Last year, 70,000 people lived there in Bakhmut, in this city, and now only few civilians stay.
Every inch of that land is soaked in blood.
Roaring guns sound every hour.
Trenches in the Donbas change hands several times a day in fierce combat and even hand fighting.
But the Ukrainian Donbas stands.
(Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) Russians use everything they have against Bakhmut and our other beautiful cities.
The occupiers have a significant advantage in artillery.
They have an advantage in ammunition, they have much more missiles and planes than we ever had.
It's true but our defense forces stand.
(Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) And we all are proud of them.
The Russian tactic is primitive.
They burn down and destroy everything they see.
They sent thugs to the frontlines, they sent convicts to the war.
They threw everything against us similar to the other tyranny which in the Battle of the Bulge.
Threw everything it had against the free world.
Just like the brave American soldiers which 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.
(Congress applauding) Ukraine holds its lines and will never surrender.
(Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) So here is the frontline, the tyranny which has no lack of cruelty against the lives of free people and your support is crucial not just to stand in such fights but to get to the turning point, to win on the battlefield.
We have artillery, yes, thank you.
We have, is it enough?
Honestly, not really.
(Congress laughs) To ensure Bakhmut is not just a stronghold that holds back the Russian army but for the Russian army to completely pull out, more cannons and shells are needed.
If so, just like the battle of Saratoga, the fight for Bakhmut will change the trajectory of our war for independence and freedom.
If your Patriots stop the Russian terror against our cities, it will let Ukrainian patriots work to the full to defend our freedom.
(Congress applauding) When Russia cannot reach our cities by its artillery, it tries to destroy them with missile attacks.
More than that, Russia found an ally in its genocidal policy, Iran.
Iranian deadly drones sent to Russia in hundreds became a threat to our critical infrastructure.
That is how one terrorist has found the other.
It is just a matter of time when they will strike against your other allies if we do not stop them now.
We must do it.
(Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) I believe there should be no taboos between us in our alliance.
Ukraine never asked the American soldiers to fight on our land instead of us.
I assure you that Ukrainian soldiers can perfectly operate American tanks and planes themselves.
(Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) Financial assistance is also critically important and I would like to thank you, thank you very much that you for both financial packages you have already provided us with and the ones you may be willing to decide on, your money is not charity, it's an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.
(Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) Russia could stop its aggression really if it wanted to but you can speed up our victory, I know it.
And it will prove to any potential aggressor that no one can succeed in breaking national borders, no one committing atrocities and reigning over people against their will.
It would be naive to wait for steps towards peace from Russia which enjoys being a terrorist state.
Russians are still poisoned by the Kremlin.
The restoration of international legal order is our joint task, we need peace.
Yes, Ukraine has already offered proposals which I just discussed with President Biden our Peace Formula.
Ten points which should and must be implemented for our joint security guaranteed for decades ahead and the Summit, which can be held.
I am glad to stress that President Biden supported our peace initiative today.
Each of you, ladies and gentlemen, can assist in its implementation to ensure that America's leadership remains solid, bicameral and bipartisan.
(Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) You can strengthen sanctions to make Russia feel how ruinous its aggression truly is.
It is in your power to help us bring to justice everyone who started this unprovoked and criminal war, let's do it.
(Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) Let the terrorist state be held responsible for its terror and aggression and compensate all losses done by this war.
Let the world see that the United States are here.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Americans, in two days, we will celebrate Christmas.
Maybe candlelit, not because it is more romantic, no, but because there will be no electricity.
Millions won't have neither heating nor running water.
All of this will be the result of Russian missile and drone attacks on our energy infrastructure.
But we do not complain, we do not judge and compare whose life is easier.
Your well-being is the product of your national security, the result of your struggle for independence and your many victories.
We, Ukrainians, will also go through our war of independence and freedom with dignity and success.
(Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) We'll celebrate Christmas.
Celebrate Christmas and even if there is no electricity, the light of our faith in ourselves will not be put out.
If Russian missiles attack us, we'll do our best to protect ourselves.
If they attack us with Iranian drones and our people will have to go to bomb shelters on Christmas eve, Ukrainians will still sit down at a holiday table and cheer up each other.
And we don't have to know everyone's wish as we know that all of us, millions of Ukrainians, wish the same, victory, only victory.
(Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) We already built strong Ukraine with strong people, strong army, strong institutions together with you.
We develop strong security guarantees for our country and for entire Europe and the world together with you.
And also together with you, we'll put in place everyone who will defy freedom, put in.
(Congress applauding) This will be the basis to protect democracy in Europe and the world over.
Now on this special Christmas time, I want to thank you, all of you.
I thank every American family which cherishes the warmth of its home and wishes the same warmth to other people.
I thank President Biden and both parties at the Senate and the House for your invaluable assistance.
I thank your cities and your citizens who supported Ukraine this year, who hosted our, Ukrainians, our people, who waved our national flags, who acted to help us.
Thank you all.
From everyone who is now at the frontline, from everyone who is awaiting victory.
Standing here today, I recall the words of the President Franklin Delano Roosevelt which are I think so good for this moment, "The American People in their righteous might "will win through to absolute victory."
The Ukrainian People will win too, absolutely.
(Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) I know that everything depends on us.
On Ukrainian Armed Forces, yet so much depends on the world.
So much in the world depends on you.
When I was in Bakhmut yesterday, our heroes gave me the flag, the battle flag.
The flag of those who defend Ukraine, Europe and the world at the cost of their lives.
They asked me to bring this flag to you, to the U.S. Congress, to members of the House of Representatives and senators, whose decisions can save millions of people.
So let these decisions be taken.
Let this flag stay with you, ladies and gentlemen.
This flag is a symbol of our victory in this war.
We stand, we fight and we will win because we are united; Ukraine, America and the entire free world.
(Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) Just one thing, if I can.
The last thing, thank you so much.
May God protect our brave troops and citizens.
May God forever bless the United States of America.
Merry Christmas and a happy victorious new year.
(Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) Thank you so much.
(Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) - The flag of the Capitol today for you.
- Okay, for me.
- I can hold.
- Turn around.
- There we go.
(Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) - This flag was flown over the capitol today in honor of the President's visit.
- Thank you so much.
(Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) (Congress applauding) - Well, it is hard to imagine a more moving conclusion to this address, to a joint meeting of Congress by Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy than to see him present the members of Congress with a flag as he said himself, he obtained just yesterday from his own fighters on the Eastern front.
It looked as if it had their signatures and a message written on it.
He presented that yellow and blue iconic flag to Vice President Kamala Harris, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
And at the same time, Speaker Pelosi in turn presented President Zelenskyy with an American flag as you saw in that wooden case, the triangular case that shows the star.
She said, "This is a flag "that was flown over the United States Capitol today."
It was quite a speech, a moving speech.
One that President Zelenskyy who typically speaks in his own native Ukrainian language, he spoke in English.
- [Nancy] The House is now dissolved.
The House will continue in recess subject to the call of the chair.
- That's of course House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling this session to a close after about a 30-minute, 25-minute or so worth of remarks by the Ukrainian president.
I'm joined by again by our guest, Retired Lieutenant General Doug Lute, 35 year career in the Army serving on the National Security Council staff during the both George W. Bush and Obama administrations.
And also Steve Sestanovich, he's a professor at Columbia University, a senior fellow at the Council and Foreign Relations, ambassador at large for the former Soviet Union during the Clinton administration.
To both of you, I was taking notes during President Zelenskyy speech which drew numerous interruptions with applause from both sides of this often very divided Congress.
Steve Sestanovich, we were used to seeing the members in opposition but they were very much together applauding the representation that President Zelenskyy made and his expressions of thanks to the United States.
- For sure, he was addressing a friendly audience.
He had a strong message for them.
I'm sure that a textual analysis will show that the single most frequently spoken word in the speech was victory.
He wants the support of the Congress as he wants the support of the administration not to fight to a grinding stalemate but to be able to keep pushing the Russians back to something that can be called a victory by him and his people.
- There there were stirring calls on his part, Doug Lute, as Steve Sestanovich just said to support the Ukrainians.
He spoke about the courage of his fighters but he also, Doug Lute, at one point he said, yes, thank you for what you've given us but is it enough?
No, he said, frankly.
And there was a little bit of laughter there in the chamber which is a reminder that this was a trip, yes, it was symbolic, yes, it was to say thank you but it was also to say, we need more.
- You know, right Judy.
It's often said that Vladimir Putin is playing the long game with the war in Ukraine.
Meaning that he's betting that the Western coalition of military assistance and economic sanctions will crack.
That the pressures of inflation and energy prices and so forth will cause us to be not durable for the long haul.
Tonight, Volodymyr Zelenskyy invested in his long game and this is the long game to cement the connections from the battlefield spot that he visited yesterday, Bakhmut all the way to the Oval Office today and then Capitol Hill this evening.
It was a masterful piece of moving from the tactical to the strategic and investing in the long game.
- Very much almost, if you will, use of a theatrical technique where he referred, back to you Steve Sestanovich, where he referred to just hours ago.
He was with his own troops in a place where they've been able to hold off the Russians but it's been very, very tough.
It's certainly taken a toll on his troops.
It's taken a toll on his country, it continues to do that.
But he made that stirring connection between I was just there and now I'm here with you to say thank you and I want you to know what they're saying.
- Judy, he went to Bakhmut precisely to be able to talk about it tonight and to get that flag for the members of Congress.
This was excellent theater and I don't hold it against him at all.
I think it was, in that respect, a kind of master stroke.
But this wasn't all theater.
He had some real sort of messages in the speech that were important.
I was struck by the sentence where he said, "We are going to use the help that you give us "in the most responsible way."
That's a message both to the administration that's worried that long-range missiles may enable them to attack Russia and a message to the Congress which has been talking about an audit.
He's saying to both the Congress and the administration, look, we've shown we can do this as he said it in another point which got a half laugh, not as big a laugh as the one you mentioned where he said, "We've shown we know how to use these tanks and planes."
- That's right.
Yeah, that's right.
I was struck by that as well, Doug Lute, where President Zelenskyy made a point of saying that we use this aid that you give us, this support we're so grateful for it but we use it responsibly.
He seemed to be, clearly he was saying, which means it's okay for you to give us more help that we will use it well.
What specifically remind us are the Ukrainians asking for from the Americans in addition to what the Americans have already done, $100 billion dollars worth?
- Right, I would cite three military capability gaps that he's trying to fill.
One is partially addressed by the Patriot air defense system that was announced today.
So high altitude, long-range air defense.
So that's at least initially on its way.
The second though, is to sort of refurbish his forces on the ground for a spring offensive and this means refurbishing them with tanks, mechanized infantry, carrying vehicles, mobile engineer support, all so that they can come together in what we call combined arms and present an effective offensive force.
And then the third thing which is perhaps the most politically sensitive is long-range strike systems that can strike the airfields from which these air attacks, drone attacks are being launched.
Some of these airfields are in occupied Ukraine, others are in Russia.
And if we really wanna get at the defense of Ukraine, we have to do more than provide defense against systems that are already flying in the air and we have to go to the source of the launch.
And that's really what he's talking about in terms of being responsible and so forth.
- And Doug Lute, I wanna stay with you for just a moment because earlier tonight on the "NewsHour", I spoke with Amanda Sloat who's the director for Europe on the National Security Council staff at the Biden White House.
And when I pressed her a little bit on what else is the administration prepared to do, what are you not prepared to do, she was reluctant to get into any specifics.
She kept referring to what the administration's already doing.
But where does the administration, in your understanding, draw the line between what they are prepared to do right now, and we know that line has moved somewhat, and what they just don't think they should do or can do at this moment?
- Well, so far in this sort of incremental approach to supporting the Ukrainians, we have avoided crossing a line into longer range systems that could actually take the fight to these these launching pads inside Russia.
And that really I think is the most heated debate right now.
I think increasingly as these Iranian drones have an effect on the battlefield, there will be a discussion among planners, American planners, NATO planners, and Ukrainian planners about how there are potential ways to interdict the flow of this Iranian support to Ukraine.
But these are down the road, they're not yet ready for decision.
- Steve Sestanovich, weigh in if you will, on that discussion that's going on, whether it's at the level of President Biden himself right now but in the national security arena in the administration about just how much more this administration can do, this government can do to support Ukraine.
- Look, I'm not surprised that an NSC staffer is unwilling to be drawn out on this point on the "NewsHour".
Doug and I both worked on the NSC staff and we wouldn't have done any more than Amanda Sloat did.
But the administration's very aware that it's gotta keep moving forward to offer more capabilities if they wanna be able to hold off a Russian offensive which is probably coming, there seems to be some division within the administration as to how likely a new offensive is.
But you know, Doug is right about one of the sources that will empower Russian offensive if it happens and that's Iranian drones and support.
And Zelenskyy was very strong on that.
He said, the two terrorist states have found each other.
you're trying to combine hostility to Iran with hostility to Russia.
And he said, we have got to act in order to stop them.
I'm sure that's gonna be a powerful formula.
You're going to let the Russians launch an offensive that is helped by Iran?
- And I believe and the two of you can correct me but I believe what I understood him to say in so many words is if we don't stop Iran in this way now in helping the Russians, we're gonna see them using this kind of terror, these kinds of lethal drones in other theaters.
So making an appeal- Yeah, go ahead.
- He said that Iran and Russia will be using these capabilities against other American allies.
And I'm sure there he meant allies in Europe, allies in the Middle East.
He is saying there's a terrorist alliance here which you members of Congress have got to help the administration focus on and act against.
- And Steve Sestanovich and Doug Lute, I'm gonna ask you to stand by because we are now joined by the NewsHour's own Jeff Bennett who was in the House chamber during tonight's speech.
Okay, I'm now told that he's not available, sorry.
We'll go to Jeff as soon as he is available.
And Doug Lute, pick up on this Iran point because it's in the trajectory of this administration's view of Iran has been more than interesting to watch.
They came into office, I think there was some sentiment that it would be a good idea to try to get the nuclear deal that the Trump administration had the United States pulled out of.
But Iran's behavior since then has changed all that.
Where do you see that right now?
- Well, I think this strategic goal remains that we are best served, America's interests are best served with some sort of agreement with Iran with international inspections that delays and complicates Iran's move towards a nuclear weapon.
So I think that's fundamental to the administration's position and that negotiation continues in fits and starts.
But meanwhile, tactically and across the Middle East region in particular, Iran is already using these very same drones, the exact same models that they've now provided to Russia.
We have seen over Syria, we've seen over Lebanon, we've seen in the Saudi Arabian Peninsula states and so forth.
So there's a very definite pattern here.
These are not sophisticated devices but they're produced and launched in such large numbers that no air defense system can expect 100% success.
So only in a few of them have to get through to knock out an electrical grid or hit a key target.
- And Doug Lute, is what the United States is giving Ukraine right now, does that make it easier whether it's Patriot or other systems to go after these drones or is that technology just not refined yet?
- Well, the combination of the systems that we've provided to Ukraine provide perhaps an 80 to 90% effectiveness rate against drones.
But look, a single drone against a critical electrical infrastructure node can knock out a city.
So they don't have to be a 100% effective for them to have a meaningful battlefield effect.
And that's why going to either the launching source of these drones or actually trying to interdict the supply chain between Iran and Russia might be more lucrative.
- Steve Sestanovich, while we're waiting for Jeff Bennett, I wanna come back to you on this sort of essential question of what we can expect from the Russian.
They've clearly been worn down, they've lost a lot of their men, their troops.
This has been a much tougher challenge for them than they ever dreamed apparently in the first place.
'Cause here we are, it's been almost a year and yet they will keep coming.
And we even heard President Zelenskyy just tonight refer to their throwing prisoners or conscripts, I don't remember which word he used at this fight.
What is the expectation that Russia's going to be doing in the weeks and the months to come?
- Well, today the Russian defense minister announced an increase in the size of the Russian armed forces of 350,000 troops.
Putin said there's no shortage of any financing that you generals have to worry about.
He was speaking to an annual meeting of the military and defense ministry.
He said, we are gonna do absolutely whatever it is.
So in the next few months and beyond that, you'll be looking at probably a somewhat increased group, sort of reinforced troop presence in Eastern and southern Ukraine.
You'll be looking at weapons capabilities that they're attempting to restock.
There will be an attempt to pull conscripts and probably an attempt to use the artillery that they have and the other drones to wear down Ukrainian support.
Doug is right that the air defense capabilities that the west has given Ukraine enable them to shoot down 80, 90% of the missiles that come in every day.
And the Ukrainians triumphantly announce that every day.
You know, we got 13 of 14, we got 65 of 70.
But as he also says, all of those that get through are taking a tremendous toll on Ukrainian society.
And that's why President Zelenskyy kept coming back to we're observing Christmas Eve in the dark.
We're cold, we're hungry but we're cheering ourselves up and we are determined to win.
But he said, it depends on you.
- And you're right, you're referring to that very moving ending of his remarks where he said at this Christmas, he said, "even if it's in the dark, it's the light of our courage "of who we are that will keep us going."
For those of you who may be tuning into this conversation, I'm with Doug Lute and Steve Sestanovich talking about what the remarks were tonight by Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine.
If you missed any part of what he said, we just wanna bring you now just a quick look at one part of his address to this joint meeting of the Congress.
- Ladies and gentlemen, Americans, in two days we will celebrate Christmas, maybe candle lit.
Not because it's more romantic, no, but because there will be no electricity.
Millions won't have neither heating nor running water.
All of these will be the result of Russian missile and drone attacks on our energy infrastructure.
But we do not complain.
We do not judge and compare whose life is easier.
Your wellbeing is the product of your national security, the result of your struggle for independence and your many victories.
We, Ukrainians, will also go through our War of independence and freedom with dignity and success.
(Congress applauding) - That was just one part near the end of President Zelenskyy' remarks.
And I am joined now by our Jeff Bennett, he was in the House chamber during this speech.
Jeff, I have to say, I don't think I've seen a foreign leader greeted as warmly as President Zelenskyy was tonight.
- You're right about that, Judy.
It was an extended standing ovation, a minutes long standing ovation before he even said a word.
To give you a sense of the dynamic that's at play here, on this side of Pennsylvania Avenue, of course, we saw President Zelenskyy and President Biden earlier today on the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue at The White House but his speech to a joint meeting of Congress, his daring and dangerous visit to Washington comes at a time when there is a small but powerful group of House Republicans who have shown an open hostility to authorizing additional humanitarian or military aid to Ukraine.
Back in May, there were 57 House Republicans who voted against what was then a $40 billion aid package.
In the Senate, there were 11 Republicans who voted against it.
Fast forward to the current moment, you have both chambers debating and set to take a vote soon on what is a sprawling spending package which includes another $45 billion worth of aid to Ukraine.
And Kevin McCarthy, the potential House Republican leader, potential House Speaker in waiting if he's able to cobble together the votes, even though he voted for that package back in May, he's now encouraging House Republicans to vote against this spending package.
He has said that he doesn't believe the U.S. should be in the position to write, what he calls, a blank check to Ukraine.
What's interesting is that you heard President Zelenskyy and his remarks today say in effect, that money is not charity.
What it is, it's an investment in democracy around the world.
Kevin McCarthy is locked in a white knuckle battle to emerge as House speaker.
Right now as I stand and speak to you, he doesn't have the votes and all of this sort of suggests to me that his position will not change because he won't become House speaker without the support of the Trump supporting far right wing of the Republican Party.
So as that dynamic plays out here, what you heard at The White House today was White House officials and President Biden himself, I believe said some version of this, that the address tonight from President Zelenskyy was not aimed at any one political party.
What it was, was his effort to thank the American people but also to send a message to Vladimir Putin.
That Vladimir Putin miscalculated badly at the beginning of this war and that the U.S. and its allies are determined to stand next to Ukraine come with may, as President Biden's said today, as long as it takes, Judy.
- And that message came through.
It is interesting what you say about what's going on in the House among Republicans.
Meantime, in the Senate, there does seem to be a majority support for continuing the assistance to Ukraine.
So Jeff Bennett was in the chamber, I wanna thank you Jeff and also our guest, Steve Sestanovich, Doug Lute.
That for now concludes our special coverage of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's address to Congress, to this joint meeting.
For viewers in the West coast, we will have a wrap up on the "NewsHour" broadcast tonight and you can follow all of our coverage on our website, that's pbs.org/newshour.
I'm Judy Woodruff, thank you for joining us and we hope to see you again soon.
Have a great evening.
- [Announcer] This program was made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you.
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