Biden will give State of the Union address on Tuesday
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky calls attack on Kharkiv ‘a military crime’
Ukraine’s president is urging Joe Biden to say something that is “useful” for his government and shy away from vague statements of support that are not backed up by action during his State of the Union address.
Volodymyr Zelensky made the comments on Tuesday, hours before Mr Biden is due to address a joint session of Congress.
“It’s very serious … I’m not in a movie,” he told CNN and Reuters from his command center in Kyiv.
Speaking of the fascination with his presidency in the west, in part due to his background as a comedian, he continued: “I’m not iconic, I think Ukraine is iconic.”
He urged Mr Biden to give strong remarks on the situation, echoing his efforts from recent days to force the US and its western allies towards more serious steps aimed at isolating Russia and its economy.
Mr Zelensky also discussed the ongoing peace talks with Russia, but stated that they would largely end up being a waste of time as long as Russia’s attack against his country continued.
“You have to speak first of all. Everybody has to stop fighting and to go to that point from where it began five, six days ago,” he Ukrainian president told CNN and Reuters. “I think there are principal things you can do … If you do this, and that side does this, it means they are ready for peace. If they [are not] ready, it means you’re just wasting time.”
The remarks come as President Biden is seeing a largely bipartisan consensus of agreement on his sanctions and other economic measures targeting Russia, while most if not all lawmakers have expressed opposition to a direct military confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia.
The State of the Union address had it been given in early February or January likely would have focused almost entirely on the White House’s push for Mr Biden’s signature Build Back Better Act as well as the once-again-frozen efforts by Democrats in recent weeks to pass some form of voting rights legislation, a bid which like Build Back Better failed due to the efforts of two swing-vote Democrats, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.
Now it will almost certainly be devoted (at least in significant part) to the crisis in Ukraine and Russia’s ongoing invasion, which began in the middle of the night last week.
Mr Biden and leaders of other western nations have vowed to continue increasing the pressure on Moscow and taking steps to punish the Russian economy should Russia’s aggression against Ukraine continue.
The war is now entering its second week as the Russian military has thus far failed to take any major population centers.
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