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Moments Away: Zelenskyy Speech To Joint Meeting Of Congress; Ukraine's Zelenskyy Delivers Historic Speech To Congress. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired December 21, 2022 - 19:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: At the U.S. Capitol right now, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy preparing to speak to a joint meeting of Congress.


He will follow in the footsteps quite literally of Winston Churchill as he delivers a wartime address to the American people at a crucial critical moment in Ukraine's extraordinary 300-day defense people at a crucial critical moment in Ukraine's extraordinary 300-day defense against Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine.

I'm Jake Tapper with CNN's live coverage of President Zelenskyy's historic visit to Washington, D.C.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And I'm Erin Burnett. Welcome to this special edition of OUTFRONT. We are glad that our viewers are with us here and around the world tonight.

President Zelenskyy arrived at the U.S. Capitol a short while ago. When he did, he was greeted by the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They appeared on the speaker's balcony. And that underscores the significance of the Ukrainian leader's first trip outside of his country since the war began.

Here is how this day is going. President Zelenskyy met with President Biden earlier at the White House, calling it a great honor to be in Washington, thanking the American people for their support. Biden then formally announced the shipment of the crucial patriot missile defense system to Ukraine, sharing that advanced system at a time when the Ukrainians may need it most. Something Zelenskyy has been asking for day in and day out, now finally delivered.

And we are keeping an eye on the Capitol right now because President Zelenskyy is due to begin speaking in this hour. So, about half an hour from now, so we are literally watching that. We'll show you, of course, as he goes into that meeting of Congress. And we will carry every word of his address live.

And our correspondents are here in Washington and around the world, including live in Kyiv tonight.

All of that I do want to of course bring in our chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju to begin. Because, Manu, in these crucial final moments where Zelenskyy now is

final preparations going to be heading into that joint meeting of Congress, you have new information about what's happening behind the scenes right now. Tell me what you know.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Zelenskyy meeting with other members of congress. And we are told our colleague heard from a source that Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader, who wants to be the next speaker of the House, did in fact meet with the president of Ukraine just moments ago.

We saw pictures of three other -- the three other top leaders in Congress, Mitch McConnell who has been a staunch advocate for more funding for Ukraine, Nancy Pelosi, who, of course, was the one who was spear-headed his visit to the Capitol today. She was the one who was in charge of all the coordination here. She of course met with Zelenskyy privately. Also Chuck Schumer was there.

We did not see pictures of Kevin McCarthy. But we are told that they did in fact have a face-to-face interaction. And that relationship will be significant, particularly in the new Congress if McCarthy does get the votes to be the speaker of the House.

Behind the scenes even earlier today, there was a debate with Republicans on the Senate side of the Capitol where they talked about more funding for Ukraine. I'm told from senators who were in that meeting there was discussion about this. McCarthy suggested that this is the issue of fiscal responsibility will be a big focus for them going forward, suggesting there could be some constraints on more Ukrainian aid after this $45 billion in aid gets rolled into a larger bill that should be signed into law by the end of this week.

But that doesn't mean that this will be the end of it. More money is coming. So this meeting could be very important. We'll see what we learn about the meeting between McCarthy and the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy. But Chuck Schumer who also met with him, just said that it was clear that they need to provide more aid. He said without the aid, Ukrainians will be in real trouble and could even lose the war.

So that is the message Zelenskyy is delivering to members of Congress and probably what we'll hear tonight when he addresses the joint session.

BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you very much.

And, you know, Jake, it is so crucial when you think about it that meeting with McCarthy and the audience for Zelenskyy here, right? It is the world. It is the United States' taxpayer. It is Congress, and it is the Republicans in Congress. And there are so many different groups that he has to target in this next hour.

TAPPER: Yeah, he's a savvy guy, though, when he goes to -- when he speaks to the British parliament, he invokes Winston Churchill. I'm told that when he speaks tonight he's going to invoke Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He knows what he's doing. For more on tonight's historic speech, I

want to bring in John Kirby. He's the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications at the White House.

So, thanks for joining us, John. Appreciate it.

President Zelenskyy, I am told this evening, will talk about the peace formula that he proposed and brought to President Biden in their meeting this evening -- in this meeting earlier today. What did President Biden think of the peace formula what he thinks he needs in order for there to be a peace? Is it terms that President Biden could go along with?

JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: Well, this is an outgrowth of what President Zelenskyy briefed at the G20, these sort of principles for a just peace as President Zelenskyy likes to refer to it.


And President Biden made clear to me, made clear publicly to all of you afterward, that he obviously wants to seek a just peace here in accordance with what Ukrainian President Zelenskyy desires to be the outcome there. He gets to determine if and when he negotiates and he gets to determine if and when he negotiates and he gets to determine what is or what isn't negotiable, if you will. So, we obviously would support a diplomatic path forward here. We want to make sure that we're doing it in lockstep with the Ukrainians and keeping what they want to see done as a result of this just peace.

But we're not going to dictate the terms to him, and we're not going to push them to the table. That's why the president focused so much of his time today both private and publicly talking about the security assistance that we're going to continue to provide them.

TAPPER: There's another idea that President Zelenskyy will discuss this evening. And he mentioned it very briefly at the joint-press conference they had, which is this idea of a peace summit to hold a peace summit this winter.

Does President Biden think that that could be successful? Can President Biden help with that summit, in any way?

KIRBY: Well, we'll have to see where this goes, Jake. This is a nascent idea that president Zelenskyy has floated. Certainly we're along to take a look at that and consider it in all its aspects. But I think we want to get more information about it, we want to study that a little bit more.

The idea, though, of coming to closure on the war, finding a just peace, ending this in terms that the Ukrainian people can live with and deserve to live with, that's really what we're trying to get to.

TAPPER: I'm also told that President Zelenskyy in his address will present an inspirational and moving gift from the Ukrainian front lines. And we know, we're showing video right now of President Zelenskyy on the front lines in Bakhmut receiving a flag, the Ukrainian flag signed by soldiers given to Zelenskyy to give to American leaders, to give to President Biden, to give to the United States Congress.

I want you to put on your veteran hat right now as a retired admiral. What's the emotional significance of troops on the front lines signing a flag of their country to deliver to an ally as a thank you for this kind of support? Emotionally, walk us through what might be going through the minds of those troops on the front line there.

KIRBY: Yeah, it's visceral. These are young soldiers that have lost their friends, have lost family members, seen their towns and villages destroyed, and for them to want to take the time to reach out in that very personal, visceral way, that's very special. When you think about everything that they're facing right now and Bakhmut, by the way, as CNN's been reporting, that's been the scene of pretty intense fighting in the last few days.

These aren't guys that are sitting around drinking coffee all day. They are in the fight. And for them to take that time out and to send that message, that means a lot. The president was moved today when President Zelenskyy gave him a medal that had been awarded to a Ukrainian soldier. And the Ukrainian soldier wanted President Biden personally to have it in his possession.

And, of course, the president will look for a way to personally thank that Ukrainian soldier. But that medal and that flag, those are tangible. You can reach out and touch them, stark reminders of the sacrifices that Ukrainian soldiers are making every single day.

TAPPER: And we're told that President Zelenskyy will invoke the Battle of the Bulge and the U.S. soldiers in the Christmas snow during that battle in World War II in 1944 when he speaks this evening.

Thank you so much, John Kirby. Appreciate it.

We're just minutes away from President Zelenskyy's entrance in the House Chamber and his big speech. You'll see it all live right here. We'll be right back. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Some of the most powerful people in Washington, D.C. gathering right now in the U.S. capitol to hear from a man many of them regard as a hero, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has addressed a joint meeting of Congress begins just minutes from now.

And former Ambassador William Taylor, you're the former ambassador to Ukraine from the United States.

Put this in some sort of perspective. How sig -- there's Speaker Nancy Pelosi preparing to gavel this in. How important is this to the Ukrainian people, who I assume are watching at home, if they have electricity. WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Hugely important,

Jake. Hugely important. The Ukrainian people know who their main supplier, their main supporter, their main ally is, and they know it's the Americans.

And when President Zelenskyy talks about appreciation, he's mentioned that over and over. He's reflecting the Ukrainian people. He knows that. He hears that.

This is important to them to see President Zelenskyy talking to our president, talking to our congress. So they're watching it very carefully.

TAPPER: And, Jim Sciutto, one thing that president Trump who is certainly not a hero when it comes to the Ukraine situation. But one thing he would always talk about that was accurate, which was Europe not pulling its weight. And we have that situation once again with the United States.

Let's listen to speaker Pelosi gaveling in.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The House will be in order.

TAPPER: Let me continue. Talking about Europe not pulling its weight, he would say that when it came to NATO spending, and President Trump was actually 100 percent accurate.

ANNOUNCER: The vice president and the United States Senate.


TAPPER: And right now, the same thing is happening. The United States is spending tens of billions on Ukraine and the European allies are not.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, not tens of billions. They are doing things they didn't do before, right, in terms of weapons transfers.

TAPPER: I mean total.

SCIUTTO: For sure, in total as a percentage, there's no question. There's a reason why Zelenskyy came here first over many other allies who have made sacrifices. And we should note, European people as well. They've given up the bulk of their energy supply, right, you know, in the span of months, which has enormous economic consequences and cost of energy to the European people.

So, when you look on balance, they're not doing the same that the U.S. is doing, but they're doing something far more than was expected going into this. I think that's an important point.


We do not to acknowledge as Americans as well. We saw our gas prices go up this summer, that's significant. They lost their energy supply, right, or the bulk of it. And that is extremely significant as well.

TAPPER: So, that is Vice President Kamala Harris, former U.S. senator from California. And as vice president, she is the president of the U.S. Senate. That is why the vice president is there.

Manu Raju, we're seeing from our reporters inside the chamber that there are not only a lot of supporters of Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, but some of his detractors are also gathering to hear him speak.

RAJU: Yeah, it will be interesting to see their reaction. Congressman Lauren Boebert. She has opposed funding for Ukraine. Also, Brian Mast of Florida, he opposed big package of Ukrainian aid in -- back in May. You'll see -- apparently, Matt Gaetz, too, congressman from Florida who has also been a critique of this is sitting in the audience. We are seeing the senators walking in as well.

According to our reporters in the room, there are about half on the Republican side. It is mostly full on the Democratic side. Now, I was told that Nancy Pelosi was calling members urging them to come today because the House has been out of session all week. No one was expecting this to happen until yesterday.

A lot of the Democrats listened to Nancy Pelosi. It sounds like they're there. The house Republicans, a lot of them are gone and are skeptical of the Ukraine aid. Because they are still waiting to vote on aid to Ukraine, which is wrapped into the larger bill to keep the government open, they are here. So we should expect to see virtually all members of the United States Senate here, even the 11 Republicans who voted against the funding for Ukraine back in the spring also to be here.

But you'll see a bit of mix of both because Republicans are not on the same page of what to do going forward.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Our reporters on the Hill are saying this, is that Liz Cheney is there, and she is sitting with the Democrats next to Elaine Luria who was, of course, on the January 6th committee with her and Elissa Slotkin.

TAPPER: Yeah, let me bring in CNN's Christiane Amanpour to give her perspective of this event. Because, Christiane, it is not a common event for a world leader from another country to deliver an address to the U.S. Congress.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You're absolutely right. And that is why it's so utterly important because of the investment the United States and the European allies have made. But mostly the U.S., which is what Zelenskyy recognizes, that the U.S. is Ukraine's biggest backer and biggest supporter and absolutely wants to thank the taxpayers and also from all accounts the investment by the United States has been one that's worked. It's an investment that you can see paying off on the ground over the last ten months. Ukraine is doing so much better than anybody imagined almost exactly ten months ago. So he wants to tell that story as well. And I think, also, I asked him whether it was true what he had said

when President Biden apparently at the very beginning offered to evacuate him. He said, no, I don't need a ride, I need ammunition. He confirmed that to me. And he said I will still say that.

Many, many military experts believe that he needs more long-range artillery, perhaps attack and surveillance drones, those kinds of hard-core military, you know, technology to fight this war. But, look, this is not for the faint of heart here.

And the U.S. has put itself behind this fight because it's not about Ukraine only, it is about the entire world order that the U.S., since Churchill came to the Congress, and since the U.S. helped win World War II, this is the world the U.S. has built. And Ukraine is standing between the success and failure of that world.

TAPPER: Ambassador Taylor, you became nationally known three years ago during the first impeachment hearing of President Trump, which was about Ukraine. And what's interesting is that there were two things that Ukraine wanted that were all part of this impeachment proceeding in terms of President Trump and what he wanted, in turn.

One of them was military aid, and the other was a White House meeting. He's getting both today from President Biden. But it's because Zelenskyy, at the time, as I don't need to tell you, was very worried about Vladimir Putin invading.

WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: He was, Jake. And, even then, he knew that the United States was going to be key. And he needed the United States. That's why he was willing to talk to President Trump. He was told that in order to get the United States and the American people, you've got to have a relationship with the president. So that's what he was operating on.


Turned out that was not good advice, but there was.

SCIUTTO: It occurred to me, Jake, two fair questions. One, would this visit be happening if Donald Trump was re-elected? I think you can say, at least perhaps unlikely, certainly not certain. But would Zelenskyy still be the president of Ukraine if Trump had been re- elected? Would the U.S. under Trump leadership have given the financial and military support that it's given, marshal the NATO alliance, as it has done, led the NATO alliance? It's a fair question.

I mean, there was a reason why Zelenskyy was seeking that imprimatur of U.S. support those years ago, didn't get it, because he knew the threat from Russia. Would he have gotten that same support? It's an open question.

TAPPER: Well, Donald Trump Jr. earlier today referred to President Zelenskyy who "Time Magazine" made their Person of the Year, referred to Zelenskyy as an ungrateful international welfare queen.

Now, that's Donald Trump Jr., not Donald Trump. But I think it does give you an idea of where the MAGA base is.

And that's also one of the reasons, Manu Raju, why there are a growing number of Republicans in the House and the Senate, but more the House, opposing aid to Ukraine.

RAJU: Yeah, no question about it. And that's going to be McCarthy's challenge going forward. It is interesting to see on the screen as members are walking in, you saw the woman in the blue, that's Victoria Spartz. She is the first Ukrainian member of Congress.

And you're seeing a lot of senators, House members going up and greeting her, obviously. She has a very, very personal stake on this issue. She may potentially run for the Senate in the next election cycle as well. So, that's interesting to see.

But no question about it there is still this question about how do Republicans want to deal with this issue going forward. And that is one of the things that Zelenskyy knows full well.

BORGER: Yeah, it's so interesting to me to think about these senators walking in this chamber now. These are the senators who debated impeachment that involved this guy Zelenskyy, that not many of them knew anything about. And now as politicians they're walking into this chamber seeing somebody who is now an international global hero in many ways, and didn't start out as a politician, in fact, but as a comedian.

BURNETT: He's really, Erin Burnett, he's really risen to the moment as few leaders are called upon to do.

PELOSI: The chair appoints as members of the committee on the part of the House to escort His Excellency, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine, into the chambers.

TAPPER: Erin Burnett?

PELOSI: The gentleman from Maryland --

BURNETT: I was just listening to the House speaker here along with you, Jake, announcing who's going to be escorting President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in. I always find the pomp and circumstance of these meetings with Congress that is so impactful and now, of course, it will be the Ukrainian president coming into that room.

Of course, members of the cabinet will be coming in. You see the vice president already there and the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has brought it to order. And we are just a few moments away here, as I said, it'll be the cabinet coming in next and then the escort for Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Clarissa Ward is with us as well as we await Volodymyr Zelenskyy walking into that room.

Clarissa, it is hard to overstate. I talk about the pomp and circumstance and all of this coming together days before Christmas in Washington for the Ukrainian president. CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a

pivotal moment, Erin. And I think that Volodymyr Zelenskyy understands that perfectly well. He knows that there is going to be a new political reality or a somewhat shifted political reality in the U.S. come January.

And he also knows the challenges that he is now facing at home despite these incredible successful counter offenses that the Ukrainians have had on the battlefield. They are facing a very tough fight in the east and in the southeastern part of the country. They are constantly being bombarded day in, day out. Russia targeting critical civilian infrastructure, roughly 20 percent of Kyiv now has power full-time. People are having to go and charge their phones at makeshift centers that the government has set up.

And then, today, Erin, we hear from President Putin himself and also from his Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu a very definitive series of statements saying that there is no chance that Russia is backing down, that they are beefing up their military, that they will spend as much money as it takes and that they will start the process of modernizing their mobilization process, which obviously was such a disaster before that they are looking at deploying hypersonic missiles.

And, essentially, being very clear about their intention, which is to try to protract and draw out this conflict for as long as they possibly can.


So, Zelenskyy walking into that room tonight, Erin, understands fully that he needs to impress upon the American people the importance of the U.S. remaining in lockstep with Ukraine as we enter this new year and a new reality of the challenges that will be facing Ukrainian forces on the ground, Erin.

BURNETT: Yes, Clarissa.

And, as we continue to see people coming in here, obviously the Ukrainian president will be escorted into this joint meeting of Congress. The speaker was just laying out the various members of Congress who are going to be bringing him in, members of the cabinet as well.

As we are watching this, I want to also bring in Will Ripley who is live in Kyiv. We are watching this and awaiting this moment, Will. And, of course, where you are, everyone is as well, and around the world this night for Volodymyr Zelenskyy, what we are all about to watch live for him and for everyone where you are is about the very survival of their country.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This may be the most important speech he'll ever make, or at least the most important speech he's made thus far. This is a man who went to law school, who studied the complex history of Russia, of Europe, and then got the acting bug, got bitten by the acting bug, is very well known here as previously a standup comedian. But his famous character was in a television show called "Servant of

the People", about an ordinary guy who kind of stumbled into the presidency. So now we have this ordinary guy who knows how to communicate by television, he knows how to communicate face to face. And he might be the most important factor in this global support, certainly the United States support for Ukraine.

You saw it at the White House earlier, the way that he interacted with President Biden. You see it the way that he addresses, whether it be European leaders or the United Nations, he knows what he's doing, this is his moment. He's about to make a message -- to deliver a message to the United States that could really make or break the course of this war and the future of the country that he now serves as president, Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Will, thank you.

And as we get ready for this, David Sanger, you heard will, this speech could make or break the future of this war and of his country. And he walks into this room as savvy as he is, as prepared as he is. You know, I do think it's worth saying the speeches he's given thus far, although perfectly in tune have been via Zoom.

He has just left a war-torn country and Bakhmut 24 hours ago and he is standing in Washington, D.C. there is, for him, a sort of a shock as he prepares for this moment as well.

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He has prepared for this in some ways his whole life as a performer as well as a politician and a war- time leader. But think what an improbable moment this is. A year ago when we watched him leave Kyiv and come to the security conference just a weekend before the war --

BURNETT: That's right. I remember that. I was in Ukraine at the time. He went -- that was his last time.

SANGER: It was. And I was in the room and everybody was looking at him and thinking how long does this man have to live? The Russians were going to come in and roll over his country, which was the state of U.S. intelligence at the time.

And here he is not quite a year later, 300 days plus through the invasion, giving this speech in which he's got to, on the one hand, be thankful to the American people and on the other hand say, this is just starting, this is going to be a really long, long war. And we need to be able to prepare ourselves for how you're going to support it over that long period of time. And I'm not sure the second part of that speech is something that the Europeans or even some in the room are ready for.

BURNETT: Right, some in the room, and Kaitlan, this room, for a variety of reasons, Congress has been out of session, there is a storm coming, they wanted people to come back. This room is not as full as it ordinarily would be.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR, CNN THIS MORNING: It's actually fuller than I thought it would be. And, you know, I talked to a lawmaker yesterday who was back home in their district because they were not supposed to be in Washington today.

BURNETT: Right, it's Christmas week.

COLLINS: And they flew back for it. And just --

ANNOUNCER: Madam Speaker, the president's cabinet.

BURNETT: So this is the president's cabinet, the Biden administration cabinet is now going to come in after this, then will be time for President Zelenskyy.

Colonel, when he comes in, what is going to be fascinating here as we talk about the person at the center of this, the man and the moment that he is in. He is going to come in as a figure the world now recognizes the way that they recognize him. He is coming in, in his green fatigues, in his sweatshirt. And that is -- that is a statement of power.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It is. Because he is deciding exactly what he can wear at any moment in time. And he is wearing it for effect, he is wearing it in a way that says I am in charge of this war effort and I'm in charge of my moment right here.

BURNETT: Merrick Garland coming in. You can see him there. As I said, these are the members of the president's cabinet.


All of them gathering, Audie, as you know, Kaitlan is saying she thinks the room is fuller than she would even have anticipated.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We shouldn't read too much into the absences in this particular case.

But to your point earlier, this is a figure -- an international figure who knows how to send a message to Russia. As we heard earlier, when he was side by side with House Speaker Pelosi, he's saying he wants to speak directly to the American people.

I think it has been very obvious that America has not been shy and saying that it does not want to be out solved in wars around the country with a withdrawal in Afghanistan, with the Trump era's who have both a literal and figurative crossing of arms in the face of NATO.

So, he knows that as well. He is going to make a case directly to the American people. I think as you are listening to this speech, you want to hear these messages, which one of these messages as he's saying that it feels like you at home, which one of it is speaking to Speaker McCarthy, or speaking to the concerns that he has been hearing all day as he has gone door-to-door?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR, CNN THIS MORNING: Remember last time when he was here in march it was a virtual of dress, that is when he was asking for the no fly zone over Ukraine. And now, look at what's doing -- he's getting his defense system, it is one of those most powerful things in the U.S. arsenal, they are only getting one. I don't know, David if you would agree, or if that could match the volume of the Russian bombardment that is hitting Ukraine, I think that a lot of people are saying maybe not.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It is the beginning, it will not match the volume, that is a great point, Kaitlan, is what you are looking at is a measure, a finger, it is a necessary finger, but it means to be much more than that if you are going to prevent this kind of thing from affecting Ukraine.

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Remember, to do this, it has got to be a very layered defense and that means, a portable defense, because the Russians are attacking across the country.

You know, the Patriot is not going to be helpful against the drones. It will not protect most of the infrastructure. It will protect Kyiv from where they think the war may be three, four, five months from now.

BURNETT: And also, Audie, he is walking this line, which, of course, he has done so fantastically, but between tanks, right, and strength. We are not subservient to you, but we are grateful to you, we would not be here without you, but I am the figure of incredible strength and resilience.

CORNISH: The American public, helping those who help themselves. I see in the green sweatshirt, et cetera, this vision of a person who represents the people in his nation, and the people have stepped up to the fight themselves.

He is one of them. They are also fighting. He is presenting himself to the public as I am a father, I am a person. Our critical infrastructure has been hit. We do not have power, we are talking about electricity. I bet you are going to hear him use the word survival a lot.

He is going to present himself as someone that Americans can actually identify with, to make this case. They don't expect him to get up there and just sort of say, I need this many javelins, and this and that, it is a different kind of speech.

BURNETT: Colonel, he is going to talk about children. I think that is clear, he is going to try to humanize this in this moment a few days before Christmas. You heard that from Speaker Pelosi. She brought up the Ukrainian children again and again. That certainly was not by mistake.

LEIGHTON: No, it is exactly the type of thing that resonates, so much I think with the American people. It resonates so much with military people as well. We do a lot of the things that we do because we want to protect the children, we want to make sure that the children can survive and that the next generation can do what it needs to do to grow a country, to build a society, and what you are seeing in Ukraine is an attempt by one side to destroy that society. On the other hand, the Ukrainians themselves are trying to build that society and protect that society. That is why this is important.

BURNETT: You know, as we talk about all of this, Jake, it is -- it is I think so important the timing that this is happening, right at the end of the year, coming into the holidays, right? They could have done this at anytime, right? But they are choosing to do it now. They are choosing to do it just a few days before Christmas.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Yeah. It is at a time when the Biden presidency has announced this Patriot defensive missile system, which Zelenskyy has been asking for, pleading for four months that Biden has agreed. And also, at a point when the Congress has to decide whether or not it is going to pass a $1.8 trillion, is it, at this point, 1.8 trillion dollar spending bill that includes aid for Ukraine, and this missile defense system.

We are still waiting for the president of Ukraine to come into the chamber. We see different members of the U.S. Senate walking and right now. We are told Zelenskyy is on the way.

And, Manu Raju, you have some reporting about what the Republican leader, potentially the next House Speaker Kevin McCarthy asked President Zelenskyy when they met just minutes ago.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, they met with all of the top leaders in congress, and Nancy Pelosi's ceremonial office just off of the House floor.


And according to our colleague, Daniella Diaz, who was told by a source close to McCarthy, he asked about the conditions on the ground. He said how is it on the ground, we want to know how winter will impact the war going forward and the use of Iranian drones? He questioned about Russian capabilities in weaponry.

Now, it's important to remember that even though McCarthy has recently said no blank check for Ukraine going forward, he has, in fact, supported other measures to continue funding Ukraine, including in the fall with a big package, a $40 billion dollar package or so moving forward.

He is not supporting the effort of $45 billion dollars because it is dropped into the larger bill. It is unclear what he would do, how he indicated there could be some limits which is why that meeting with Zelenskyy is so significant.

Also interesting, what we are seeing right now in the room. There are Republicans in attendance but not nearly as many as Democrats according to our colleagues who are in the House chamber. There are about 80, 85, maybe a bit more House Republicans who are there, that is a fraction of the House Republican conference.

There are all 50 Republican senators who appear to be in attendance for waiting to vote tonight which is a big reason why they were there. They told me earlier that he would not be there if they had voted to pass that proposal, to fund the government, because it would have gone home.

But they are waiting so that the Republican senators are there, but not McCarthy's conference, even though McCarthy himself had the interaction.

TAPPER: We just saw the escort committee and members of the House and Senate Democrats and Republicans walking in. Those are the individuals who are escorting the president of Ukraine, who I think we can see right there on the left side of your screen with the beard.

There is President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about to be introduced. Let's listen in.

ANNOUNCER: The president of Ukraine.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Members of Congress -- members of Congress, I have the high privilege and the distinct honor of presenting to you, His Excellency, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of the Ukraine.



Thank you so much.

Thank you so much. It's too much for me.

All this for our great people. Thanks so much.


Dear Americans, in all states, cities, and communities, all those who value freedom and justice, who cheer us as strongly as we Ukrainians in our cities, in each and every family, I hold my words of respect and gratitude resonate in each American heart.

Madam Vice President, I thank you for your efforts in helping Ukraine.

Madam Speaker, you bravely visited Ukraine during the full-fledged war. Great honor. Thank you very much. Great honor. Thank you.


I am very privileged to be here.

Dear members of the Congress, representatives of both parties who also visited Kyiv, esteemed congressmen and senators from both parties who will visit Ukraine I am sure in the future.

Dear representatives of Diaspora.


Present (ph) in this chamber and spread all the country, dear journalists, it's a great honor for me to be at the U.S. Congress and speak to you and all Americans.

Against -- against all odds and doom and gloom scenarios, Ukraine didn't fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking.


Thank you.

And it gives me good reason to share with you our first joint victory. We defeated Russia in the battle for minds of the world.


We have no fear, nor should anyone in the world have it. Ukrainians gained this victory, and it gives us courage which inspires the entire world.

Americans gained this victory, and that's why you have succeeded in uniting the global community to protect freedom, and international law. Europeans gained this victory, and that's why Europe is now stronger, and more independent than ever. The Russian tyranny has lost control over us.


And it will never influence our minds again. Yet we have to do whatever it takes to ensure that countries of the Global South also gain such victory.

I know one more I think very important thing. The Russians will stand a chance to be freed only when they defeat the Kremlin in their minds.


Yet, the battle continues, and we have to defeat the Kremlin on the battlefield. Yes, this battle is not only for the territory, or another part of Europe. The battle is not only for life, freedom, and security of Ukrainians, or any other nation which Russia attempts to conquer.

The struggle will define in what world our children and grandchildren will live and then, their children and grandchildren.


It will define whether it will be a democracy of Ukrainians, and for Americans, for all.

This battle cannot be frozen, or postponed. It cannot be ignored, hoping that the ocean or something else will provide a protection.

From the United States to China, from Europe to Latin America, and from Africa to Australia, the world is too interconnected and interdependent to allow someone to stay aside and at the same time feel safe when such a battle continues.

Our two nations are allies in this battle. And next year will be a turning point -- I know it -- the point when Ukrainian courage and American resolve must guarantee the future of our common freedom -- the freedom of people who stand for their values.


Ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, Americans, yesterday, before coming here to Washington, D.C., I was at the front line, in our Bakhmut, in our stronghold in the east of Ukraine, in the Donbas. The Russian military and missionaries have been taking Bakhmut nonstop since May. They have been taking a day and night, but Bakhmut stands.


Last year, last year, 70,000 people live here in Bakhmut, in the city, and now only a few civilians stay. Every inch of that land is soaked in blood, roaring guns sound every hour, trenches in the Donbas changed hands several times a day in fierce combat, and even hand fighting. But the Ukrainian Donbas stands.


Russians, Russians use everything, everything they have against Bakhmut and other of our beautiful cities. The occupiers have a significant advantage in artillery. They have an advantage in ammunition. They have much more missiles and planes than we ever had.

It is true, but our defense forces stand.


And we -- and we all are proud of them.

The Russians' tactic is primitive. They burned down and destroyed everything they see. They sent thugs to their front lines. They sent convicts to the war. They threw everything against us, similar to the other tyranny which is in the Battle of the Bulge, threw everything it had against the free world.

Just like the brave American soldiers which held their lands and fought back Hitler's forces during the Christmas of 1944, brave Ukrainian soldiers are doing the same to Putin's forces this Christmas.


Ukraine, Ukraine holds its lines and will never surrender.


So, here, in the frontline, the tyranny which has no lack of cruelty against the lives of free people, and your support is crucial, not just to stand in such a fight, but to get to the turning point to win on the battlefield.


We have artillery, yes. Thank you. We have it. Is it enough? Honestly, not really.


To ensure Bakhmut is not just a stronghold that holds back the Russian army, but for the Russian army to completely pull out, more cannons and shells are needed. If so (ph), just like the battle of Saratoga, the fight for Bakhmut will change the trajectory of our war for independence and for freedom. If your Patriots stop the Russian terror against our cities, it will let Ukrainian patriots work to full to defend our freedom.


When Russia, when Russia cannot reach our cities with its artillery, it tries to destroy them with missile attacks. More than that, Russia found an ally in this -- in this genocidal policy -- Iran.

Iranian deadly drones sent to Russia in hundreds, in hundreds. They became a threat to our critical infrastructure. That is how one terrorist has found the other. It's just a matter of time when they will strike against your other allies if we do not stop them now. We must do it.


I believe -- I believe that there should be no taboos (ph) between us in our alliance. Ukraine never asked the American soldiers to fight on our land, instead of us. I assure you that Ukrainian soldiers can perfectly operate American tanks and planes themselves.


Financial -- financial assistance is also critically important, and I would like to thank you -- thank you very much, thank you for both financial packages you have already provided us with, and the ones that you may be willing to decide on.

Your money is not charity. It's an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.


Russia -- Russia could stop its aggression, really, if it wanted to. But you can speed up our victory. I know it.

And it -- and it will prove to any potential aggressor that no one can succeeded in breaking national borders. No one committing atrocities, and reigning people against their will, it would be naive to wait for steps towards peace from Russia, which enjoys being a terrorist state.

Russians are still poisoned by the Kremlin. The restoration of international legal order is our joint task. We need peace, yes. Ukraine has already offered proposals, which I just discussed with President Biden, our peace formula, 10 points, which should be and must be implemented for a joint security, guarantees for decades ahead, and the summit which can be held.

I'm glad to share that President Biden supported our peace initiative today. Each of you, ladies and gentlemen, can assist in the implementation to ensure that American leadership remains solid, bicameral, and bipartisan.


Thank you.


You can strengthen sanctions to make Russia feel how ruinous its aggression truly is. It is in your power, really, to help us bring to justice everyone who started this unprovoked and criminal war. Let's do it.


Let terrorists --


Let the terrorist state be held responsible for its terror and aggression and compensate all losses done by this war. Let the world see that the United States are here.

Ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, Americans, in two days, we will celebrate Christmas. Maybe candlelit. Not because it's more romantic, no, but because there will not be -- there will be no electricity. Millions want -- have neither heating nor running water.

All of these will be the result of Russian missile and drone attacks on our energy infrastructure. But we do not complain. We do not judge and compare whose life is easier.

Your well-being is the product of your national security, the result of your struggle for independence and your many victories.

We, Ukrainians, will also go through our war of independence and freedom with dignity and success.


We'll celebrate Christmas, celebrate Christmas and even if there is no electricity, the light of our faith in ourselves will not be put out.

If Russian -- if Russian missiles attack us, we'll do our best to protect ourselves. If they attack us with Iranian drones and our people will have to go to bomb shelters on Christmas Eve, Ukrainians will still sit down at the holiday table and cheer up each other and we don't -- don't have to know every -- everyone's wish as we know that all of us, millions of Ukrainians, wish the same -- victory. Only victory.


We already built strong Ukraine with strong people, strong army, strong institutions together with you. We developed strong security guarantees for our country and for entire Europe and the world together with you.

And also together with you, we'll put in place everyone who will defy freedom. Put-in.

This will be the basis to protect democracy in Europe and the world over.

Now, on this special Christmastime, I want to thank you, all of you. I thank every American family which cherishes the warmth of its home and wishes the same warmth to other people.

I thank President Biden and both parties, at the Senate and the House, for your invaluable assistance.

I thank your cities and your citizens who supported Ukraine this year, who hosted our Ukrainians, our people, who waved our national flags, who acted to help us, thank -- thank you all, from everyone who is now at the front line, from everyone who is evading victory.

Standing here today, I recall the wars of the President Franklin Delano Roosevelt which I think so good for this moment. The American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. The Ukrainian people will win, too -- absolutely.


I know that everything depends on us, on Ukrainian armed forces, yet so much depends on the world, so much in the world depends on you.

When I was in Bakhmut yesterday, our heroes gave me the flag, the battle flag, the flag of those who defend Ukraine, Europe and the world at the cost of their lives. They ask me to bring this flag to you, to the U.S. Congress, to members of the House of Representatives and senators whose decisions can save millions of people. So let this decisions be taken, let this flag stay with you, ladies and gentlemen.

This flag is a symbol of our victory in this war. We stand, we fight and we will win because we are united -- Ukraine, America and the entire free world.


Just one thing, if I can, the last thing, thank you so much. May God protect our brave troops and citizens. May God forever bless the United States of America, merry Christmas and happy victorious New Year.