What pundits are saying about Zelensky’s address to Congress

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivers a virtual address to Congress
J. Scott Applewhite/Pool/AP

As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky finished a highly anticipated speech before Congress on Wednesday morning, pundits praised the European leader for his emotional appeal for help fighting off an invasion from Russia and predicted how his remarks might land with the American people and government.

Zelensky’s speech was “very reminiscent of Churchill,” longtime presidential historian and MSNBC contributor Jon Mecham said shortly after the address wrapped up. Mecham’s remark echoed a sentiment that has been spread by many across Western media as the Ukrainian president has spent the last several days making a series of appeals to world leaders for support and vowing to fight off the Russian invasion with everything he has. 

“Right now, the destiny of our country is being decided, the destiny of our people, whether the Ukrainians will be free, whether they will be able to preserve their democracy,” Zelensky told members of Congress during his remarks. “Russia has turned the Ukrainian sky into a source of death for thousands of people.” 

During his speech, Zelensky played a harrowing video showing the death and destruction Russia has caused in his country. It ended with the words “close the sky over Ukraine.” 

Fox News anchor and political analyst Bret Baier described the video message as “effective” but cautioned there might not be a large appetite among the American people for further involvement in the conflict.

“Yes, there is the want and need to help the Ukrainians as much as possible. … However, when you’re dealing with nuclear weapons, there’s also the safety of American people, that group of folks is heard too,” Baier said, adding that “there is a needle that has moved” in how people view what is going on in Ukraine and President Biden is trying to “tip toe through World War III and aggression.”  

Others found Zelensky highly convincing and applauded his display of conviction and commitment to his people. 

“The ending of Zelensky’s speech was so powerful because he was basically saying there’s something he’s willing to die for—how often has anyone heard *that sentiment* in a chamber that is so often a forum for witless posturing,” wrote Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review. 

“Those of us standing on the sidelines need to stop pretending we know better than [Zelensky] what he needs,” added Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia and regular pundit on NBC. “Maybe he knows best? Who are we to tell him differently? So arrogant.”

Abby Phillips, an anchor and national political analyst for CNN, said Wednesday’s address shows Zelensky “knows his greatest power has been his ability to single-handedly rally the world.” 

“He’s putting everything on the table, including sharply focused pressure on Biden directly for more help for his country,” she said. 

“I am addressing President Biden, you are the leader of the nation, your nation,” Zelensky said as he concluded his speech. “I wish you to be the leader of the world. Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace.” 

Tags Joe Biden Joe Biden President Biden Russia Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy Volodymyr Zelenskyy

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