World must respond to calls for aid by Ukrainian leader on visit to U.S.

Protecting Ukraine from Russian aggression will help preserve the free world. It is vital to respond to the calls of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy by regarding them as a matter of international order.

Zelenskyy made a surprise visit to the United States. It was his first foreign trip since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February.

It is not easy for a wartime leader to leave the country. It can be said that the extraordinary visit was made possible due to Ukraine’s recovery from its initially inferior war situation and Zelenskyy’s stable political power base.

Even at the risk of traveling long distances, Zelenskyy dared to make the trip to the United States at this time because Russia would be hard to repel without continued support from the United States and other countries.

The Russian military is attacking major Ukrainian cities with missiles and drones, intensively destroying power and heating supply facilities. Stronger air defense systems are urgently needed to protect civilian life in Ukraine as the country faces a severe winter.

After meeting with Zelenskyy, U.S. President Joe Biden said the United States would provide about ¥250 billion in additional military assistance, including one U.S.-made Patriot surface-to-air missile battery.

The high-performance Patriot system, capable of intercepting missiles and aircraft, has been deployed in Japan, Germany and other U.S.-allied countries. In addition to improving Ukraine’s air defense capabilities, the provision of the Patriot system seems to have significant symbolic meaning, too, demonstrating the importance that the United States attaches to Ukraine.

Addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress, Zelenskyy expressed his thanks for U.S. support, while also stressing the need for tanks and aircraft, which Washington is reluctant to provide. He emphasized that the assistance is “an investment in the global security and democracy,” not an act of charity.

If Russia succeeds in its aggression in Ukraine, the practice of “changing the status quo by force” will prevail in the future, further destabilizing the world. It is essential for the United States to continue to lead the provision of military assistance to Ukraine.

Some in Congress are wary of dispensing huge sums of aid to Ukraine, but it is hoped that the United States will continue its bipartisan support.

“We will celebrate Christmas. Maybe candlelit. Not because it is more romantic. But because there will be no electricity,” Zelenskyy said in his address. His heartbreaking appeal and determination to resist Russia must have resonated with people around the world.

The Japanese government is sending electricity generators to Ukraine, but it needs to step up support so that the Ukrainian people will be able to get through the severe winter.

Japanese technology excels in the detection and removal of landmines, a task that has proven essential for reconstruction in the cases of past aid recipients. Japan must deepen its contribution to Ukraine’s human resources development in this area.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 23, 2022)