Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s visit to the White House confirmed that Ukraine and the US are “strategic partners” for the first time in history, the Ukrainian leader’s most senior adviser has said in an interview on his return home.
Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainan president’s office, told the Guardian that the trip on Wednesday had cemented Zelenskiy’s bond with the US president, Joe Biden – and with senior US Republicans, despite “dirty” comments made by the Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
The summit and press conference between the two leaders this week demonstrated “how deeply in personal attitude President Biden feels everything which is connected to Ukraine”, Yermak said, and that the US was “a real leader of the free world and democracy”.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks with Ukrainian ambassador to the US, Oksana Markarova, as he arrives in Washington for talks with US President Joe Biden and an address to a joint meeting of Congress, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Washington, 21 December 2022.
Yermak’s emphasis on the personal links forged by the surprise visit, the first time Zelenskiy had been outside Ukraine since the start of the war, comes despite a failure to immediately obtain the US Abrams tanks, F-16 fighter jets and long-range army tactical missile system ATACMS that Ukraine has said it needs to defeat Russia.
But it demonstrates a belief in Kyiv that Ukraine must emphasise the moral dimension of its fight against the invading Russian army and its faith in its relationship with the US to unlock more and more of the military aid it badly needs as the war heads towards its first anniversary in February.