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Connolly Statement on Zelenskyy Address to Congress

Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Senior Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and outgoing President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, released the following statement after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed a Joint Meeting of the United States Congress:

It was my honor to join my colleagues in welcoming Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the United States Capitol for his address to a Joint Meeting of Congress.

This marks the Ukrainian president’s first international trip some 300 days since Russia launched its unprovoked, illegal full-scale invasion into sovereign Ukrainian territory.

As many in the United States gather with loved ones this holiday season, the Ukrainian people are entering into a cold, dark winter. At the orders of Vladimir Putin, Russian Armed Forces have intentionally attacked civilian infrastructure and civilians themselves, killing, wounding, and displacing countless innocent women and children.

Following the stalwart leadership of President Biden, Congress must and will continue to provide the Ukrainian people what they need to defend themselves.

I was honored to serve as the President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly for the past two years, overseeing the Assembly’s response to Putin’s criminal and murderous aggression. During my presidency, we held close consultations with the Ukrainian delegation to advocate for allied support for the most urgent humanitarian and military assistance, established a special support fund for the continued development of the Verkhovna Rada, formally called for the establishment of a special war crime tribunal for atrocities committed by Russian forces in Ukraine’s sovereign territory, and propounded the notion that we must operationalize our commitment to democratic values.

As the author of the Crimean Annexation Non-Recognition Act and the Ukrainian Territorial Integrity Act, I have worked with colleagues in Congress to make clear to Vladimir Putin that the United States will never recognize any swath of Ukrainian territory forcibly seized by Russia.

In my address at the annual Madrid NATO Summit to heads of states, I underscored our enduring commitment to the people of Ukraine, their territorial integrity, and their right to a democratically elected government: “We will not allow authoritarianism to extinguish the flame of democracy. This Alliance will not allow President Putin to stamp out the embers of democratic ambition, wherever they burn. People are dying in Ukraine as we speak for daring to embrace the democratic ideal.”

President Zelensky’s speech today, in the bastion of American democracy, reinvigorates our efforts to support the democratic ideal, at home and abroad, and continue to support our Ukrainian friends fighting on the frontlines of the battle between democracy and authoritarianism.
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