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Zelensky's welcome in the West reinforces message of unity

Zelensky's welcome in the West reinforces message of unity
President Zelensky Goes to Washington | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi everybody, it's Ian Bremmer and President Zelensky, Volodymyr Zelensky is in the United States. It is his first trip out of his country in 10 months, in 300 days, since the Russian invasion began into Ukraine. I remember in the Munich security conference just a few days before the war started when we all knew that in an invasion was coming and NATO leaders, including President Joe Biden, got in touch with the Ukrainian president and said, "Can we evacuate you? Can we get you out of that country because you're likely to get killed if the Russians invade?" He said, "No." And he has led his country to mount a stalwart defense of their territory, fighting the Russians back now for almost a year, and indeed now traveling to the United States where he will most surely get a standing ovation, bipartisan, from both chambers of the House and Senate and meet with Biden and national security officials, and also celebrate the fact that democracy still means a lot, both in Ukraine and around the world.

It's a big trip. It's a big deal that Zelensky, in the middle of this war with the Russians continuing to pound civilian infrastructure relentlessly, is able to visit troops on the front lines, and then two days later comes to the United States. It shows political stability in Ukraine. It shows military resilience and defense. And of course, it also reflects what the United States has done, leading a very strong coalition to punish the Russians and to the support the Ukrainians. Nine rounds of sanctions from the EU, billions and billions of dollars in military support and humanitarian aid from the entire coalition, led first and foremost by the United States and by the Biden administration.

And while this is clearly an enormous moral victory for Zelensky to be able to come and make this speech, it's also a win for Biden. Remember at the beginning of his administration, the disaster that was the American unilateral withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of fighting, losing that war, the Taliban taking over, human rights being destroyed across the country, felt like the Biden administration could do no right in foreign policy those days. This of course, has been the most important crisis, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, of the Biden administration and Biden's response has been strong and exceptionally successful to date. So I think both the fact that Biden is leading that and that it's bipartisan with, I mean literally you can count on two hands, the numbers of members of Congress that are strongly opposed to what Biden is doing right now. A small number on the right and even smaller number on the far left. But generally speaking, this has been successful.

I think that following Zelensky's trip, there will be other trips. I certainly believe he'll go to Warsaw, huge support from the Polish government, including housing millions of Ukrainian refugees. The United Kingdom, which is the second most important military supporter of the Ukrainians after the United States, probably France, Germany, Brussels at some point as well. And when Zelensky goes and travels to the G20 or the G7 or NATO and is seen to be invited, even though he's not a member of any of those organizations, while the Russians are treated like a pariah, I think that sends a very strong message to the international community that he has really an enormous amount of support, and that is not going away. I think that's a big deal.

I also think that the announcement of the Patriot system missile defense, which is going to be going to Ukraine, they'll be trained in a third country, and then it'll be sent over to Ukraine. The Russians have been very angry about this. It's going to make their own offensive capabilities less relevant on the ground for the Ukrainian attack. That's a big deal, and certainly is part of why Putin decided to announce that new hypersonic weapons, missiles will be kitted out in the Black Sea Fleet in the coming month as a response to that announcement by the Americans. In the same way that Russia's saying that they're going to put some of their newly mobilized troops up to the north is a response, albeit belated to the expansion of NATO and the forward deployment of NATO into Finland and Sweden.

So this war continues to escalate, and civilians, of course, especially Ukrainian civilians, are the ones being caught in the crosshairs. I don't see any end to that sight. In fact, I think the most likely escalation in the coming weeks is probably going to be a significant Ukrainian counteroffensive to try to break the so-called land bridge between Russia and Crimea. Whether that is Melitopol or Mariupol, I don't know exactly what they're going to hit, but that's the effort, and if they're able to actually get to the water, then Ukrainian HIMAR systems provided by NATO would be in range of the Kerch bridge, and that would be an enormous threat to the Russians. And then I think we'd be in danger of much greater escalation from the Russian side.

Today is much more about symbolism, but symbolism that accurately reflects an extraordinary defense by the Ukrainians of their own territory and the West coming together in a unified way with no signs of breaking apart. So that's today. I hope everyone's doing well, and I'll talk to y'all real soon.


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