KIEV, UKRAINE — Before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky, as a former comedian who stumbled upon the job of leading the country with a seemingly naive promise to clean up the country’s rampant corruption, was often dismissed.
After a short trip to the war’s bloodiest battlefields on Tuesday, he arrived in Washington, a national hero and global superstar, on Wednesday.
That aura has served him and his country well so far. But Mr. Zelensky’s arrival in Washington comes at a pivotal time for Ukraine, slowing his army’s lightning strike back from this fall. You’ll want stronger weapons, but you’ll have to walk with a fine line.
By making daring wartime trips abroad, he seeks to show strength and confidence that Ukraine will ultimately win. In, he needs to turn his attention to the dire threat that Ukraine still faces.
“President Zelensky wants to present this visit as a significant development in the war,” Volodymyr Aliyev, a parliamentarian for the opposition European Solidarity Party, said in an interview. “It sends a very clear message that the U.S.-Ukraine alliance is sustained and very strong.”
In Ukraine, the visit was seen as linked to the U.S. political calendar, as control of the House of Representatives shifted to the Republican Party, and some members of the Republican Party decided to keep aid flowing to Ukraine. expresses skepticism.
Another of Zelensky’s main goals, analysts say, is to maintain united U.S. support for the war and do all he can to avoid it turning into a partisan issue.
“Zelensky should not go back and forth between Democrats and Republicans,” Kyiv-based political commentator Yevn Murda said in an interview. “He should propose a new paradigm, one in which Ukraine today is at the epicenter of the battle between good and evil.
“By supporting Ukraine, the United States supports good,” Murda added. “This is the message you want.”
A former comedian, Mr. Zelensky has always had a sharp image in politics and a sense of storytelling. This is evident from his speech to parliament after visiting the frontline city of Bahmut against the backdrop of the burgeoning artillery. .
“It’s an honor to be here today,” Mr. Zelensky told Bakhmut soldiers. our children’s future. ”
At a press conference with President Biden in Washington on Wednesday, he personally pleaded for more economic and military assistance. “And you understand it only when war is in your country.”
Zelensky is also keenly aware of the need to boost public morale, with millions living without electricity, water or heating as winter sets in, analysts say.
For the most part, however, Mr. Zelensky faced no political pressure at home and was free to coordinate his travels to suit his obligations to fill the military’s arsenal for war.
The United States is the largest foreign supplier of weapons to the Ukrainian military. But the Biden administration has been cautiously calibrating its aid to Ukraine, forgoing longer-range and more powerful weapons for fear of a Ukrainian attack on Russian territory that could drag NATO into war.
With two successful Ukrainian counteroffensives in the northeast and south, Russian and Ukrainian forces are digging along a new 600-mile front line. To sustain its progress, Ukrainian officials and analysts say its military needs more advanced weapons systems.
Mr. Zelensky will have the opportunity to address US lawmakers’ concerns about oversight of military and financial aid to Ukraine. It could also put pressure on Mr Zelensky on domestic issues such as freedom of the press, fighting corruption and ensuring checks and balances between the courts and the executive branch. .
But Mr. Zelensky’s main purpose is to portray war in a harsh light of good and evil, one that transcends American politics and calls for “the legitimacy of his cause and his people and his soldiers.” Yuri Makarov, editor-in-chief of the Ukrainian State Broadcasting Company.
Maria Varenikova contributed a report from Kyiv.