‘He shoots from the hip, and that’s part of his charm’

“Remember Pearl Harbor, that terrible morning of December 7, 1941, when your sky was blackened by planes that attacked you. Remember September 11, a terrible day in 2001 when evil tried to turn your cities independent territories into battlegrounds,” Zelenskyy said. “Our country has experienced the same day, right now, at this moment, every night for three weeks now.”

Zelenskyy had a unique combination of moral authority and uncensored authenticity that helped rally the West around him. He’s been making special strides with Congress lately: From a Russian oil ban to a high-profile military aid package, Zelenskyy is rallying lawmakers to support his priorities even as he struggles he deliberately shied away from traditional Washington speaking and diplomatic rules.

“He shoots from the hip, and that’s part of his charm,” Sen said. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who along with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has spent more time face-to-face with Zelenskyy than any American official. “I think that gets him into political hot water sometimes, but the upside in his style is ten times more beneficial than the regular downsides.”

However, the results were far from perfect and Zelenskyy’s strategy had its limits; Most of his prominent demands, such as establishing a no-fly zone, were rejected by members of both sides. Some lawmakers have even pondered how Zelenskyy’s personal style undermines his own goals. But that hasn’t stopped him from appealing to Americans’ feelings about the brutality of Russia’s war, even with demands he knows can never be met – as he is. did in Wednesday’s speech.

“When I first met him, I thought I would meet a manga. And instead, I met a statesman,” says Portman, who has met Zelenskyy in person several times. “Some people underestimated his political ability from the start. I do not have. … He becomes one of the rare figures who can truly direct the course of history. ”

Zelenskyy’s growth from a NATO entertainer hoping to find an audience with former President Donald Trump, into an anti-Russian icon shows that his whatever energy can pay off on Capitol Hill. He was eager to speak to lawmakers Wednesday morning — an engagement that took place at Zelenskyy’s personal request, according to a congressional official.

First elected in 2019 on a vow to stamp out corruption and integrate Ukraine with Europe, the 44-year-old took office at a difficult time. His national army is advancing with training and support from the US and other major allies, but Russia-backed separatists in his east are trying to make the President’s dream of taking Ukraine a reality. Russia Putin into reality.

Zelenskyy came to power with a powerful mandate, having won a large number without any prior political experience. Just months into his term, he was drawn into US politics after Trump pressed him in a now-famous phone call to investigate both then-candidate Joe Biden and his son. , Hunter Biden.

Trump also withheld significant military aid from Zelenskyy, delivering his first impeachment as Democrats accused him of trying to blackmail a foreign leader. After the Senate acquitted Trump, Murphy led a bipartisan trip to Kyiv to meet Zelenskyy and reaffirm US support for a besieged European ally.

This week, Murphy said that Russia is attacking, “It would be sloppy if he didn’t ask for everything. His people are dying. … We must come to our own conclusions about what we are willing to do and what we cannot do. “

Other lawmakers who spent time with Zelenskyy as he weathered political storms in the US have described him as unwritten and outspoken – sometimes to his own detriment of familiar officials. Use careful diplomacy. Those members of Congress who know Zelenskyy best said his attempt to embarrass Western nations in sending more support to his country did not surprise them, given his track record.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.) said the President of Ukraine has always been clear about what kind of support he needs. Zelenskyy’s leadership and determination in the face of Russian aggression “is fundamental to keeping the morale of the Ukrainian army and people strong in the face of such devastation,” added Shaheen.

Standard practice for foreign leaders when dealing with U.S. officials and legislators calls for the care and diligence that Zelenskyy and his top aide, Andriy Yermak, often avoid during these meetings. intimate environment.

Their posture has at times forced Biden administration officials to question whether Zelenskyy was serious about his urgent pleas for additional military assistance, including MiG fighters from Ba Lan, which the United States has so far refused to move because of concerns about escalation with Russia.

As a result, Biden administration officials often consult with lawmakers who have met regularly with Zelenskyy to understand his intentions.

But other lawmakers have scratched their heads at the Ukrainian president’s handling of Washington in recent weeks, among them congressional Democrats, who have become particularly frustrated. with Zelenskyy’s strong endorsement of Sen. Ted Cruz(R-Texas)’s law to sanction the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The Russian-German project was taken offline after the Russian invasion, but Zelenskyy wanted the pipeline closed sooner. And he endorsed the GOP-led legislation even though the Biden administration is not yet prepared to impose those sanctions.

Some Democrats perceive Zelenskyy’s support for Cruz bill for inadvertently undermining the White House’s efforts to unify the transatlantic against Russian aggression.

Meanwhile, Republicans see Zelenskyy as the impetus for the Biden administration to reverse some sanctions against Russia that were initially met with resistance from the White House. Through Zoom’s private meetings with lawmakers and his dramatic public pleas, Zelenskyy brought Capitol Hill on board for further military support and a Russian oil import ban in within days – unprecedented speed for Congress.

“He has clearly grown tremendously during his presidency. He has truly proven himself to be a world leader of great courage and conviction,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who met Zelenskyy twice, including once sitting down at his office in Kyiv last September.

“It seems to me that the government has to be manipulated and motivated to do the right thing,” added Barrasso. “Zelenskyy’s courageous leadership is making a significant difference.”

In his public address, Zelenskyy sought to strike a delicate balance between expressing gratitude for the support Western nations have provided and begging for more. That often puts him at risk of appearing ungrateful to the United States and other NATO allies, who have provided his nation with vital military, humanitarian and economic support.

That posture was on full display on Tuesday when he addressed the Canadian Parliament. He has doubled down on his push for a no-fly zone, detailing the devastation Russian forces have wrought on his country.

“How many bombs have to fall on our cities before you make this happen?” Zelenskyy said. “You all need to do more to deter Russia, protect Ukraine, and by doing so, to protect Europe from Russian threats.”

While Zelenskyy has united both parties, that has not stopped different voices from seeking a political advantage. Freshman Representative Madison Cawthorn (RN.C.) recently called Zelenskyy a “thug” and liar seeking to draw the United States into its war, a message Republicans have conveyed. Others vehemently denied.

“People are inspired by him and by heroism,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a recent interview. “We need to help them quickly and efficiently.” ‘He shoots from the hip, and that’s part of his charm’

Fry Electronics Team

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