Remarks by Vice President Harris and President Zelenskyy of Ukraine in Joint Press Conference | Munich, Germany

Remarks by Vice President Harris and President Zelenskyy of Ukraine in Joint Press Conference | Munich, Germany

USA - USA DAILY NEWS 24 originally published at USA - USA DAILY NEWS 24

Commerzbank
Munich, Germany

2:07 P.M. CEST

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  Good afternoon, everyone.

President Zelenskyy, it was my honor to meet with you again.  This is our fifth meeting, by my count.  And our first meeting was here almost exactly two years ago.

I want to thank you for all that you have done and all that you are as a leader.  You and I have had many conversations.  And it is my honor to say, as part of a public conversation, that you have been an extraordinarily courageous leader and have shown you commitment to the Ukrainian people and to democratic principles, including the most important — one of the most important — which is the importance of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

So, it is good to see you again.

I was in Munich and have been here to talk about where we stand currently in terms of our relationship to the Ukrainian people and our unyielding commitment, on behalf of the United States, to the Ukrainian people and to their sovereignty, to their freedom.

Five years — five — two years ago when I was here, it was to foreshadow the Russian playbook for the world and to outline the steps the United States, along with our allies and partners, would take in response to their aggression.

And I shared with the President then — President Zelenskyy — that the United States stands with Ukraine, and we have been proud to stand with Ukraine over the last two years.  And President Joe Biden and I will continue to stand with Ukraine, as I said yesterday and as we say every day.

Yesterday, we received reports that Aleksey Navalny died in Russia.

I met with his wife, Yulia, yesterday, and expressed my outrage and sorrow.

In this fight and — I will say that Aleksey Navalny has been a brave leader who stood up against corruption and autocracy, and he stood up for the truth. 

The reports of his death are further proof of Putin’s brutality.  It reminds us why our support for Ukraine is so important, because Ukraine is fighting back heroically against Putin’s continued brutality.

In Munich two years ago, many thought Kyiv would fall in a matter of days.  Yet, thanks to the skill and bravery of the people of Ukraine and the support of the 50-nation coalition the United States has led, Kyiv stands free and strong.

President Zelenskyy, that is a testament, as I have said, to your extraordinary leadership and the determination of the people of Ukraine and their willingness to fight for their homes and their homeland, for their freedom and their independence. 

In this fight, Ukraine has achieved significant success against an adversary on an imperialistic quest to subjugate your nation — an adversary with an economy 10 times larger than Ukraine, a population 3 times larger, and a military that once ranked as the second best in the world.

You have stood strong in the face of Russia’s advances and countered its aerial assaults.

You have regained half the territory Russia controlled at the start of this conflict.

You have inflicted major damage on Russia’s fleet in the Black Sea and maintained the flow of grain to world markets.

You have kept heat and electricity on in the face of incon- — unconscionable attacks on civilian infrastructure.

And you have made a range of reforms that will help accelerate Ukraine’s integration with the West.

Because of our collective strength, this war has been an utter failure for Putin.

President Zelenskyy, the stakes of your fight remain high for your country and for the entire world.  And it is in the strategic interest of the United States to continue our support.

International rules and norms are on the line, including the fundamental principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

History shows us: If we allow an aggressor like Putin to take land with impunity, they keep going.  The other would-be aggressors then become emboldened.

On this trip to Munich, I have worked with our allies and partners to ensure we stay united and strong in support of Ukraine.

Today, President Zelenskyy, you and I had a productive conversation about ongoing support from the United States and the international community, and we spoke of our support for Ukraine on the battlefield.

As I said yesterday, you have the support of bipartisan majorities in both houses of the United States Congress.

So, as we move forward, the President and I — President Biden and I will continue to work to secure the resources and weapons that you need to succeed.  We also will continue to support your efforts to secure a just and lasting peace.  We will work to make sure Russia pays damages to Ukraine.  And ultimately, we want to see Ukraine emerge from this war as a nation that is free, democratic, and independent.

President Zelenskyy, as President Joe Biden and have — and I have made clear, we will be with you for as long as it takes.

I thank you again.  And thanks —

PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY:  Thank you so much.

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  Thank you.

PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY:  (As interpreted.)  Thank you so much, esteemed Madam Vice President, esteemed members of the delegation, dear journalists.  I’m glad to have this meeting with Madam Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris.

Thank you so much, Kamala. It is quite natural that main topics of our conversations were security and resilience — security that we, together, build, restore, Ukraine and the United States, by all signs of our cooperation and resilience that we, together, build up when we preserve unity and help each other.

I am grateful to Madam Vice President for attention and for your words and for your respect to our nation and for the respect that you have expressed during our meeting to our people, to our warriors, to Ukrainians.  Thank you so much for that.

And I’m thankful for the vital support and leadership of the United States of America, who helped to unite the world and to stand off against Russian strikes.

We shall be together in the future, Ukraine and the United States.  And all world — all our partners, we shall continue to build up our security, achieve joint results to increase our resilience against Russian aggression, and each day prove to Putin that his hatred towards people, hatred towards freedom will never prevail over our unity, unity of the free world.

Of course, the key issue for us now is the preservation of principle American support.  Ukraine and all our warriors need and await of the respective positive vote regarding the assistance package.  And I thank to everybody who understands how much depends on this single voting procedure.

We have today discussed with Madam Vice President about how significant results were already achieved because of our joint work with the U.S. with partners — in particular, regarding air defenses.  American Patriots are the — are the best life-preservation means of people against Russian terror, and each Patriot not only saves hundreds and thousands of lives, but also allows our cities to function normally and therefore our economy.

One of Ukrainian goals this year is economic growth.  Last year, we have had plus 5 percent GDP.  This year, we would need a corresponding growth rate in order to build up more of Ukrainians’ economic independence.

The issue of air defense in this regard is the main thing.  I have informed Madam Vice President regarding the current situation on the battlefield about our capabilities and perspectives upon the conditions of needed support levels.

I have also briefed about — about the ongoing transformation of our state, in particular about decisions that can build up our resilience. 

We have also discussed the preparation of the Global Peace Summit in Switzerland on the level of leaders.  One more principal topic is justice — justice of the further pressure on Putin and his regime in all directions.  In particular, this year, we need to ensure the confiscation and usage of Russian assets for the sake of protection against Russia’s terror.

Putin does not value lives of people.  He does not understand and does not respect any rules.  The only thing that is important for Putin is money and power.  We need a strong decision that would confiscate frozen Russia’s assets.  We would need further full-scale pressure with sanctions on Russia in order to constrain Putin’s capabilities to finance this war.

I’m glad to praise the proximity of our views on — on absolutely principal issues.

Madam Vice President, I’m grateful to you for our conversation.  I thank to all American people.  I am extremely thankful to Mr. President Biden, to both parties, and both houses in Congress for the vital support.  And I’m sure that, together, we can stop Russia.  We must stop.

Thank you for your attention.  Glory to Ukraine.

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  We will take questions now from the press.  Cleve Wootson of the Washington Post.

Q    Madam Vice President, hello.

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  Hello.

Q    You’ve spoken about enduring American support for Ukraine and other conflicts this weekend.  But this political situation at home, including your own, is anything but uncertain, with President Biden facing poor polling numbers, questions about his age.  What skepticism have you faced here about U.S. support in your meetings?  And what have you said to try to allay them?

And, to President Zelenskyy —

PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY:  Can you turn on the microphone? 

Q    Is it not on?

PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY:  No, it’s not on.

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  Is the interpretation happening?

INTERPRETER:  Unfortunately, the interpretation is not happening as the — we cannot hear the speaker.

PARTICIPANT:  The translator didn’t hear you.  Can you re-ask?

Q    I can certainly re-ask.

PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY:  Please take this one.  It was working.

Sorry, I don’t hear.

Q    No problem.  Want me to ask the question to you again, Madam Vice President?

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  No, I got it.

Q    Okay.  And to President Zelenskyy.  Let’s pull up my question.  The U.S. Congress so far has not approved more military aid for you.  Without that aid, does your country have a path to victory?  And is the lack of funding a betrayal because President Biden has promised that he would be with you until the very end?

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  I’ll start.  As I made very clear yesterday, the issue of supporting Ukraine and where the United States stands on that issue is integral to who we are as the United States of America.

We have historically and currently stand as a global leader on certain fundamental democratic principles, including the principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

We stand with our friends.  Our membership in NATO has been a role that is about a commitment to our allies based on shared principles of what it means to abide by democratic principles that have historically ensured stability and security for those participating in this partnership.

As I made very clear yesterday, when we talk about the role of America, as it relates to our support for Ukraine, we must be unwavering and we cannot play political games.  Political gamesmanship has no role to play in what is fundamentally about the significance of standing with an ally as it endures an unprovoked aggression. 

Politics should play no role in standing for the fact that Vladimir Putin, through his leadership of Russia, has shown himself to be fundamentally hostile to democratic principles, not to mention what we learned about in the last 24 hours in terms of the killing of Navalny.

So, this is about where we stand as a nation.  And as it relates to the supplemental, we have been clear, the President and I, both in private conversations with members of the United States Congress and in public.  We are clear and certain that for the majority in both the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives, there is bipartisan support for this approach.  There is bipartisan support for what America is and what we stand for. 

And we are unwavering.  And that has nothing to do with an election cycle.  It has to do with who we are and what kind of country we want to be: one that stands with our friends.

President Zelenskyy.

PRESIDENT ZELENSKKY:  Thank you so much.  (As interpreted.)  Thank you for this question.

We are counting on this positive decision of the Congress.  For us, this package is vital.  We do not currently look into alternatives because we’re counting on the United States as — as our partner — strategic partner — that this partner will remain strategic partner.

If we’re speaking about the alternative, then this means that it will be not our strategic partner.  That’s why I’m not looking into such alternative.

And we also did not look into such alternatives strategically and politically.  Is this package a way to victory?  No, this would not be enough because our path to victory is people, the morality of Ukrainian warrior, of people.  The assistance packages, sanctions of the partners — that is a big Allied work — and not quarterly work, but on a daily basis.  And that’s why it is so important.

But it will definitely — this package is a — definitely way forward.  And that is a fact.  But it would be not victory yet.  But moving forward is much, much better than stagnation on the battlefield.

Do I believe that this is a betrayal?  No, because I do not think that our strategic partner can allow itself to not support Ukraine.  This — I do not see the opportunity for strategic partners to take such stance.  We see challenges — electoral, internal, political.  I do not want to comment on those because that — those are internal processes in the U.S. and of the people of the United States.

But I count that the Allied stance will remain.

Q    (As interpreted.)  Greetings.  Nina Kolomiiets, Inter channel.  I have a question to Madam Vice President and to Mr. President.

We see how difficult it is for the Congress to deal with the assistance to Ukraine.  Could you could you please elaborate on why such vital issue to us has been so postponed and whether the United States has a plan B shall the House of Representatives not confirm the assistance package to Ukraine?

And also, the question regarding the signature of Ukraine with bilateral security agreements — firstly, with Great Britain; yesterday, with France and Germany.  I have a question when the agreement on cooperation in security field will be signed between Ukraine and the United States of America.  Perhaps there are already preliminary negotiations on this topic.

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  There is only plan A, which is to ensure that Ukraine receives what it needs.  I will emphasize that an indication of where we can and, frankly, must be is that there is bipartisan support in both of our houses of Congress, on the Senate side and the House of Representatives.  And it is my full belief that were the supplemental package and security package to make it to the floor of the House of Representatives, that it would actually pass.

I also believe that there is consensus across party lines in the United States Congress that recognizes the — the brutal nature of Moscow’s aggression, and that there must be a response that includes standing by our friends and supporting those who fight against that aggression.

And I do believe there is consensus within the United States Congress that the American leadership, elected leaders in the United States Congress must be unified in their opposition to Russia’s aggression, as indicated over the course of the last two-plus years and the last 24 hours.

And I do believe also there is consensus within the United States Congress that we must use everything that is available to us to support Ukraine in its fight to become and to maintain itself as an independent and democratic nation.

PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY:  Thank you for the question.  As regards the security guarantees, right?  So, regarding the security guarantees, yes, our teams are working.  We have held, already, two negotiation rounds, and I’m sure that we will have very powerful document with our partners.

However, we have agreed upon that we all need to focus on what is needed right now.  That’s why we focus on the work with Congress of the United States.  And afterwards, we will move on to security guarantees.

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  Thank you, all.  Thank you.

PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY:  Thank you so much.

                               END                 2:28 P.M. CEST

Official news published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2024/02/17/remarks-by-vice-president-harris-and-president-zelenskyy-of-ukraine-in-joint-press-conference-munich-germany/

USA - USA DAILY NEWS 24 originally published at USA - USA DAILY NEWS 24