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In The News

Zelensky In Washington: How It Played In Moscow, Kyiv And The Rest Of The World

For the Russians, the Ukrainian president went to the U.S. “begging for money.” But elsewhere in the world, this visit was shaping up as one of the most significant episodes of a 10-month-old war with planetary implications.

Zelensky In Washington: How It Played In Moscow, Kyiv And The Rest Of The World

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and U.S. President Joe Biden

Cameron Manley


Ten months into Russia’s war in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky once again took the world by storm. His momentous visit to Washington was his first trip abroad since Russia’s full scale invasion, and signals a landmark moment in a war with so much at stake beyond Ukraine’s borders.

Zelensky addressed a joint session of Congress late Wednesday, stressing the need for more weapons and adding that “against all odds, and doom and gloom scenarios, Ukraine didn’t fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking.”

Earlier, U.S. President Joe Biden welcomed the Ukrainian president at the White House, where he confirmed a new $1.85 billion U.S. aid package to Ukraine, including the much discussed Patriot missile defense system. “We understand in our bones that Ukraine’s fight is part of something much bigger,” Biden said.

As dawn broke in Moscow, the reaction from Russian leaders was swift — and dripping with sarcasm and vitriol.

State media taunted Zelensky, saying he was “prostrating himself” and “begging for money” from the Americans, adding he was nothing more than “an embarrassment.” One Russian political scientist, Pavel Danilov, in an interview with Channel Five, said the visit was “some kind of image opportunity for Ukrainian domestic consumers. He went to the American priest who confirmed that he was on our side, that everything was fine, let's carry on, lads, fight on and all that.”

Kremlin: Does not bode well for Ukraine

The official line from the Kremlin was no less scathing. Maria Zakhrova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, responded to Ukrainian representative to the UN, Sergei Kislytsya, who posted an American flag in Ukrainian colors to his twitter. Zakharova with her usual bitter irony wrote on her Telegram account: "What we have been talking about for many years, but what no one wanted to believe, has happened. Congratulations everyone!"

Presidential spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, further stressed that the American Patriot missile systems would become a highly legitimate target for the Russian military. “All of this leads to an aggravation of the conflict, and does not bode well for Ukraine,” Peskov said. The U.S. is doing nothing but “prolonging the suffering” of the Ukrainian people.

Germany's Süddeutsche Zeitung

Ukraine wants more

Meanwhile, in Kyiv, Ukrainian analysts were focused on concrete results from Zelensky’s visit. Military expert Kostyantyn Mashovets stressed that America’s donation of the Patriot system signaled a new stage in the war. "The Patriot anti-aircraft missile system is, of course, a hi-tech weapon, no matter who it is handed over to,” he said in an interview with Radio Liberty Ukraine.

“This shows a certain degree of trust from the U.S. in both the Armed Forces of Ukraine and in Ukraine as a state."

Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, in a post on Facebook said “this visit is not about symbolism, but about specific decisions that strengthen Ukraine's defense and help beat the invaders”.

Kuleba stressed the long journey it had been to acquire the Patriot missile system from the US, concluding that “Patriots in Ukraine are saved lives and civilian infrastructure. This is another strategic defeat for Russia… The history of the Patriots is another example of the impossible becoming possible if Ukraine is doing it.”

Other world capitals were quick to respond to Zelensky’s visit in what has become one of the most symbolic moments of the war.

Brazil's O Globo 

Europe sees a ‘hero’

In Europe the tone varies. French daily Le Monde noted the choice of Zelensky’s first destination abroad. “He could have gone to Warsaw, Paris or London. But Washington was the destination that made the most sense regarding the big military support from the U.S.”

French newspaper Le Figaro commented on what this trip meant for Zelensky himself– a man utterly secure in both his governmental leadership and personal security: “The fact that the Ukrainian president is traveling abroad in the first place means he feels secure towards the Russians as well. He is not afraid of being overthrown, or that people will take advantage of his absence, unlike former Russia leader (Mikhail) Gorbachev. This move is a sign that things are “going relatively well.”

Details have emerged in recent hours about how the visit was arranged in secret over the past week, with Zelensky first traveling to Poland by train before flying to Washington on an American military aircraft, US officials said.

German daily Die Weltcompared Zelensky to Britain’s World War II leader Winston Churchill, noting how both leaders addressed the U.S. Congress in crucial moments of history, “Volodymyr Zelensky is also comparable to Churchill in that one would not have thought much of him before this war — and because he embodies a type…Both leaders knew how to address the American soul, with simple but direct statements: thanking the American people for their help but demanding more.”

Belgium’sLe Soir refers to Zelensky’s “hero” status, and how his visit may offer a boost to the aging Biden “to reinforce his virile and martial posture”.

U.S. Washington Post 

What’s next in Washington

In the U.S., senior Republicans pushed Biden to provide additional aid to Ukraine. “Helping equip our friends in Eastern Europe to win this war is also a direct investment in reducing Putin’s future capabilities to menace America, threaten our allies and contest our core interests,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnelll said.

The Wall Street Journal praised Zelensky as “a brave and charismatic wartime leader, and his speech was eloquent in explaining that Ukraine is fighting for its independence as Americans once did.”

Still, behind the united exterior the Ukrainian president continues to push for weaponry that Biden is reluctant to provide. “Biden remains worried about not pushing too far, too fast, for fear of escalation,” Ivo Daalder, President of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs told The Washington Post. “Zelensky wants to make clear that he needs this continued support that, frankly, only the United States can provide.”

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The Problem With Always Blaming Climate Change For Natural Disasters

Climate change is real, but a closer look at the science shows there are many factors that contribute to weather-related disasters. It is important to raise awareness about the long-term impact of global warming, but there's a risk in overstating its role in the latest floods or fires.

People on foot, on bikes, motorcycles, scooters and cars navigate through a flooded street during the day time.

Karachi - People wade through flood water after heavy rain in a southern Pakistani city

Xinhua / ZUMA
Axel Bojanowski


BERLIN — In September, thousands of people lost their lives when dams collapsed during flooding in Libya. Engineers had warned that the dams were structurally unsound.

Two years ago, dozens died in floods in western Germany, a region that had experienced a number of similar floods in earlier centuries, where thousands of houses had been built on the natural floodplain.

Last year saw more than 1,000 people lose their lives during monsoon floods in Pakistan. Studies showed that the impact of flooding in the region was exacerbated by the proximity of human settlements, the outdated river management system, high poverty rates and political instability in Pakistan.

There are many factors that contribute to weather-related disasters, but one dominates the headlines: climate change. That is because of so-called attribution studies, which are published very quickly after these disasters to highlight how human-caused climate change contributes to extreme weather events. After the flooding in Libya, German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung described climate change as a “serial offender," while the Tageszeitung wrote that “the climate crisis has exacerbated the extreme rainfall."

The World Weather Attribution initiative (WWA) has once again achieved its aim of using “real-time analysis” to draw attention to the issue: on its website, the institute says its goal is to “analyse and communicate the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events." Frederike Otto, who works on attribution studies for the WWA, says these reports help to underscore the urgent need for climate action. They transform climate change from an “abstract threat into a concrete one."

In the immediate aftermath of a weather-related disaster, teams of researchers rush to put together attribution studies – “so that they are ready within the same news cycle," as the New York Times reported. However, these attribution studies do not meet normal scientific standards, as they are published without going through the peer-review process that would be undertaken before publication in a specialist scientific journal. And that creates problems.

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