Experts: Ukraine Now Has an Open Tab with the US

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed Congress early Thursday,* stressing Ukraine’s importance for the future of the entire world.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made his first trip abroad since the start of the Russian invasion, traveling to the United States on Wednesday.

Juhana Aunesluoma, a professor of political history at the University of Helsinki, and Mika Aaltola, director of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, appeared on Yle Thursday morning. They believe that the visit is a sign of deepening relations between the United States and Finland. The United States has clearly taken a leading role in the West’s support of Ukraine, a country currently engaged in a defensive war.

“The United States is sending a message to all its other allies, whether European or Asian. When the going gets tough, the United States will stand behind its allies just as it did in the conflicts of the 20th century, funding them until victory is achieved,” Aunesluoma said.

During the visit, President Joe Biden authorized a new security assistance package worth $1.85 billion, including a Patriot air defense system that Ukraine has long sought.

“This is a weapons system that has been sold to Sweden, for example, and exported to critical allies. Now it has been provided to Ukraine, communicating to them that they have an open tab with the U.S. and that the resources available to them are considerable,” Aaltola said.

Zelenskyy’s Message Served Both US Political Parties

According to Aunesluoma and Aaltola, Ukraine is not only important for the U.S. due to the war — it’s also a question of geopolitics. Ukraine has a population of tens of millions and is the largest country in Europe by area.

“Establishing this kind of alliance with such a large country, which is quite capable militarily, is important for the United States in terms of realpolitik. It also acts as a deterrent with respect to China,” Aaltola said.

Zelenskyy addressed Congress early Thursday morning,* stressing Ukraine’s importance for the future of the entire world.

“The messages in Zelenskyy’s speech work for both Republicans and Democrats. To Democrats, Russia is a large authoritarian state and a boogeyman, while to Republicans, the same could be said for China. Here, they were tied together in the context of global security,” Aaltola said.

Aunesluoma said Zelenskyy’s visit came at a good time. Power in the House of Representatives will soon shift from Democrats to Republicans following the midterm elections. The inflection point makes it possible to thank the previous legislature for its help, but also build relations with the new majority party in the House.

It seems that reaction to Zelenskyy’s visit was very positive. People, particularly those in the United States, praised the fact that Zelenskyy spoke in English. He really tried to appeal to the American public and to both parties in Congress.

*Editor’s note: The author is referring to the time the address was broadcast in Finland.

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