Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed a joint meeting of US Congress on Wednesday, as he made his first trip outside Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion in February.
Zelenskyy entered the House chamber to a standing ovation and roaring applause, accompanied by members who were appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to escort him.
He began his speech with a direct address to the American people.
"Dear Americans, in all states, cities and communities -- all those who value freedom and justice, who cherish, as strongly as we Ukrainians, in our cities in each and every family, I hope my words of respect and gratitude resonate in each American heart."
"Dear members of Congress, representatives of both parties who also visited Kyiv, esteemed congressmen and senators from both parties who will visit Ukraine, I am sure in the future," he continued. "Dear journalists, it's a great honor for me to be at the US Congress and speak to you and all Americans."
"Against all odds and doom and gloom scenarios, Ukraine didn't fall," Zelenskyy stressed. "Ukraine is alive and kicking."
He said Ukraine's fight is not just to protect their territory from Russia but to preserve their democratic way of life for younger generations.
"The 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 of Ukrainians and for Americans, for all," stated Zelenskyy. "This battle cannot be frozen or postponed. It cannot be ignored hoping that the ocean or something else will provide a protection."
The Ukrainian President continued to ask for help with weapons and financial assistance and told lawmakers that he has never asked for US troops on the ground.
"I believe in us and 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," he said.
"Your money is not charity. It's an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way," added Zelenskyy.
The Ukrainian President invoked the Battles of Saratoga, the turning point of the American Revolutionary War, in his speech.
“Just like the battle of Saratoga, the fight for Bakhmut will change the tragic story of our war for independence and of freedom,” Zelenskyy said, referring to a Ukrainian city on the eastern frontlines of Russia’s aggression.
Zelenskyy presented Congress with a flag signed by Ukrainian soldiers as a gift to say thank you for the weapons they had sent his country.
In return, Pelosi gave Zelenskyy a folded US flag that had flown over the Capitol building on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, Zelenskyy met US President Joe Biden at the White House.
During the meeting, Biden told Zelenskyy that the United States "will stay with you as long as it takes" as the country enters what promises to be a brutal winter of war with Russia, according to NBC News.
The US President noted that Wednesday was the fourth night of Hanukkah “when Jews honor a small band of warriors fighting a much larger foe” and told Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, "Light will always prevail over darkness."
In July, Zelenskyy’s wife, Olena Zelenska, spoke before the US House of Representatives and the Senate and appealed to lawmakers to provide more help to her country as it struggles against the Russian invasion.