From Jamie Peipon: This has been one of the wildest days for Ukraine-related news in some time. I wrote yesterday about how difficult the situation currently is in Bakhmut. Well, today President Zelenskyy arrived there for an unannounced visit. Bakhmut is not just near the front line. Bakhmut IS the front line and it is where all of the worst fighting has been going on for the past month. The morale boost that this will provide for those soldiers, and even for the rest of the military and country, is impossible to calculate. The city is a living hell, and these soldiers have been living in it. They’ve been killing others, and seeing their own get killed. Every day. To have a leader demonstrate that he is willing to go to the same places to which he sends his soldiers is a big deal. He visited actual front line positions and also handed out several awards to soldiers with the sounds of artillery explosions in the background. As the soldiers greeted the president, they gave him a signed flag. You can see that interaction in the picture below. Rather than complaining, these soldiers asked the president to pass this flag on to a specific group of people as a symbol of their sincere thanks.
But the “surprise visits” did not end there… as I type, President Zelenskyy is on a plane (likely a US Military plane) on his way to Washington D.C. Tomorrow, on the 300th day of the russian invasion, Zelenskyy will wake up outside of Ukraine for the first time since before February 24th. The Speaker of the House has asked all of her colleagues in the congress to be present tomorrow evening. Zelenskyy will apparently meet with President Biden and then will speak to a joint session of Congress. And this is what those soldiers in Bakhmut requested… “The soldiers that you gave awards to today all signed this flag, and we ask that you would pass this flag on to our sworn brothers in the United States with all of our most wonderful words.” For anyone here in the States who feels like Ukraine has been ungrateful as they’ve received American support, you should know that even as their president visits them on the front, they’re concerned with making sure that regular Americans know how thankful they are for all the support they’ve received. That flag will surely be put in the hands of President Biden or Senior Leadership at the Capitol. But you should know that, while that delivery is appropriate, it is not exactly what those soldiers asked for. They asked for this flag to go to their “sworn brothers” in the United States, not just to the US President or Congress. It is only right that leadership receive that flag insofar as they represent all the people of America. The soldiers from Bakhmut are sending you, American readers, their thanks.
This all happens as the US is scheduled to finally announce that a Patriot air-defense battery will be sent to Ukraine along with a great deal of ammunition for HIMARS, other artillery shells, etc. This $1.8 billion package will surely be announced tomorrow in some type of joint press conference. There have already been preliminary reports that the Patriot battery will make its way with one of the very next shipments. If true, this all but confirms that Ukrainians have already been training to use this system and they are about ready to implement it.
In addition, there is an omnibus bill before congress that includes an additional $45 billion in support for Ukraine. This visit is a great opportunity for Zelenskyy to address Congress and, truly, the entire country. At the beginning of the war, he addressed parliaments all over the world via video messages and Zoom calls. Hopefully he and his speech writers will rise to the occasion. Wednesday will be a fascinating day!
“Mild he lays his glory by,
born that man no more may die,
born to raise the sons of earth,
born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
‘Glory to the newborn King.’”