Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko gave a stirring address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress Thursday, pleading for “military equipment–both non-lethal and lethal” in his country’s ongoing struggle to resist Russian invasion. He received a warm welcome from both houses and both parties–though his presence was surely a rebuke to the White House, which stood by as Russia annexed the Crimea and invaded eastern Ukraine.
The war in Ukraine, Poroshenko warned, is not Ukraine’s alone: “It is Europe’s, and it is America’s war, too. It is a war of the free world–and for a free world! Today, aggression against Ukraine is a threat to global security everywhere.”
In an appeal to Congress’s pro-Israel sentiments, Poroshenko said: “Just like Israel, Ukraine has the right to defend her territory–and it will do so, with all the courage of her heart and dedication of her soul!”
Poroshenko reminded Congress that the U.S. promised to defend Ukraine: “Allow me to remind you: 20 years ago, in the Budapest Memorandum, Russia (along with the United States, the United Kingdom, France and China) vowed to provide for the inviolability of Ukraine’s state borders and territorial sovereignty. In reality, what we got from Russia was annexation and a war that has brought Ukraine to the brink of its survival….
“The United States made a commitment that it would stand behind Ukraine’s territorial integrity–and we hope that it will live up to that promise,” he said. “Democracies must support each other. They must show solidarity in the face of aggression and adversity. Otherwise, they will be eliminated–one by one,” he said. He added that America had to assume “its natural and manifest role” as a global leader: “I urge America to lead the way!”
Referring to the minimal aid that he had received from the U.S. thus far–rations and the like, not weapons–Poroshenko said that such aid was insufficient: “Blankets and night-vision goggles are important. But one cannot win a war with blankets!” Poroshenko departed from his prepared remarks: “Even more: we cannot keep the peace with a blanket. And this is the most important of our aims–not to win the war, but keep the peace.”
Poroshenko also pledged domestic reforms to make Ukraine more worthy of support, calling for “modern governance and non-corrupt public administration” in his country. He requested that Congress recognize a special status for Ukraine as a crucial non-neighboring ally. Poroshenko closed with an appeal to an enduring slogan from the American Revolution–still the motto of the state of New Hampshire: “Live Free or Die!”
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the forthcoming ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.