What impact will Zelensky's US trip have?

In a speech to the US Congress, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the US for its help so far, saying he hoped Congress would continue to provide Ukraine with bipartisan support; as of January the Republicans will have a majority in the House of Representatives. Europe's press takes stock of Zelensky's first trip abroad since the Russian invasion of his country in February.

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taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

A successful performance

Taz is impressed by the Ukrainian president's talent for hitting the right note in his speeches to foreign parliaments:

“Unlike Germany, for example, which is still sceptical about the military despite the change of era, Zelensky was able to display all the pathos of a soldier bravely defending his country in the US - with medals straight from the front. Not to cheer him on would be a no-go for US politicians of almost any stripe. ... In this respect, the visit was of course a performance from the first to the last minute - but one with political goals. These were achieved, at least for the time being.”

Echo (RU) /

This is the speech of a true leader

In a Telegram post republished by Echo, journalist Stanislav Kutscher compares Zelensky's speech with the one Putin gave at the Russian Military Academy on the same day:

“It suffices to compare photos and videos of Zelensky's and Putin's speeches to see what distinguishes a real leader of a nation from a dictator who has appointed himself as the national leader. A man who is willing to risk his life for his country from a man who is capable of putting his country at risk for the sake of staying in power for life. ... It was confidence in the rightness of his cause, coupled with sincerity, simplicity and a talent for appealing to humanity, that made the Ukrainian president's speech before the US Congress a truly historic event.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

A success for Biden too

The US president has underscored his role as leader of the West, Jyllands-Posten notes:

“The visit was also a success for Biden. It gave him the opportunity to relaunch the United States as the number one power of the free world. ... This one day in Washington in President Zelensky's life could prove to be a golden investment, not only in Ukraine's future. The US has now re-committed to Europe - this can be felt. For France under President Macron, one thing is certain: no one will be going to Moscow behind Kyiv's back to try to stop the war.”

Wprost (PL) /

US bolstering Central Eastern Europe

The power structure in Europe is changing, Wprost believes:

“The defeat of Moscow, which was declared a strategic goal by Zelensky and Biden in Washington, will also mean the creation of a strong political-military power centre in Central and Eastern Europe based on a close alliance with the US. In addition to Ukraine, Poland and other Nato and EU member states in the region will form part of it. They will become a natural complement, if not a counterweight, to Germany and Berlin, which until not so long ago controlled Eastern European policy.”

France Inter (FR) /

No avoiding Washington

Zelensky's decision to visit the US first is perfectly understandable, France Inter puts in:

“Many voices yesterday deplored the fact that Zelensky's first trip since the start of the war was to Washington rather than to Brussels or another European capital. But let's be honest: although Europe hasn't let Ukraine down in the last ten months, it didn't have the means or above all the unity and political will to provide the military assistance that has now been granted to the Ukrainian army and state. The role of the US was and remains absolutely crucial, as Joe Biden's latest decision to send Patriot missiles to Kyiv demonstrates.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Conveying an image of unity

Zelensky and the US government are above all sending a signal to Putin, Večernji list believes:

“The mere announcement that Patriots will be sent to a country at war that is not a Nato member is a new milestone. And it is a message to the Russian president, who had perhaps hoped that the US would change or weaken its support for Ukraine after the midterms. Putin is meant to see Zelensky's visit to the US as confirmation that Washington will not stop helping Kyiv to defend itself against the Russian aggressor, as an unidentified White House official who briefed US journalists before the visit explained.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Share Churchill's belief in the power of democracy

Gazeta Wyborcza draws a historical parallel:

“On Wednesday, Zelensky boarded a US plane at Rzeszow airport and set off on his first trip abroad since the start of the Russian aggression. This is a thoroughly symbolic trip. In December 1941, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill spent ten days aboard the battleship Duke of York and sailed to the US to meet with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The politicians held hour-long talks at a time when Hitler's armies were reaching Moscow and the Third Reich's ally Japan was conquering more territory in the Pacific. It was difficult to be optimistic at the time. ... Churchill and Roosevelt, however, believed in victory because they believed that the free world was stronger than dictatorships.”

Wiener Zeitung (AT) /

The EU's time is yet to come

For the Wiener Zeitung it's understandable that Zelensky did not go to Brussels first:

“From his point of view, Washington is the right destination for his symbolically charged first trip. The photos of his handshake with the most powerful man in the world at the welcoming ceremony or in the Oval Office are the hardest currency of its kind. There is no equivalent either in the technocratic charm of Brussels or in Berlin or Paris. In the long run, however, there is no way around the EU for Ukraine. At some point this war will end, and then it will come down to reconstruction and bringing the giant country economically and politically closer to the EU. And both economic aid and private investment will come mainly from Europe.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

We should all be grateful to them

The West has good reason not to reduce its support for Kyiv, The Daily Telegraph stresses:

“Zelensky should not have to come to the West with a begging bowl - it should be the other way round. Ukraine has, in effect, destroyed the reputation of a formerly feared army and removed it as a threat to Nato. Once Russia is defeated, there is every reason to believe that in the long-term Europe can focus more on economic growth and prosperity. That is the prize if we can continue to support Zelensky and his country's inspiring fight for democracy and sovereignty.”

Oleg Saakyan (UA) /

Harsher stance vis-à-vis Putin needed

In a post on Facebook, political scientist Oleg Saakyan is disappointed that the US has not classified Russia as a terrorist state:

“The classification of the Russian Federation as an aggressor state is a pretext for not classifying it as a sponsor of terrorism. Calling it an aggressor state is quite okay - it's a political assessment, but one that does not entail any real consequences. If Russia had been classified as a sponsor of terrorism certain mechanisms and regulations regarding the country and its pariah status would have automatically been set in motion.”