- Zelensky will meet with Biden and address Congress
- Almost 2 billion will be announced in the US
- Patriot missile battery part of new support
- Zelensky presented the medals in besieged Bakhmut, his office said
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is on his way to the United States on Wednesday to meet with President Joe Biden and visit Congress. This is the first known trip abroad since the February 24 invasion of Russia.
Zelensky said he was going to Washington for talks with Biden to strengthen Ukraine’s “resilience and defense capabilities” and to address the US Congress.
During the visit, Biden will announce almost 2 billion
Zelensky’s visit, which was organized in secret until details emerged on Tuesday evening, will last several hours.
He will speak with Biden and top national security aides at the White House, attend a joint news conference with Biden, and then head to Capitol Hill to address a joint session of the US Senate and House of Representatives.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement that Biden invited Zelensky to Washington “to emphasize the long-term commitment of the United States to Ukraine.”
“The visit will underscore the United States’ strong commitment to support Ukraine to the extent necessary, including economic, humanitarian and military assistance,” she said.
Zelensky’s trip comes 300 days after Russia invaded Ukraine with the goal of capturing Kiev within days, a goal that quickly faded as the strength of Ukraine’s response, backed by billions in weapons from the United States and allies, made the Ukrainians unexpectedly tough opponents.
Biden’s message to Zelensky will be decisive and confident, the US official said.
Biden will come face-to-face with someone he has spoken to regularly over the past 10 months but has not met in person since the war began. With strong support for Biden, the West rallied behind Ukraine and sought to isolate Russia without engaging in direct conflict with it.
Biden will not use the talks to push Zelensky to the negotiating table with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the US official said.
The Biden administration has given Ukraine about $20 billion in military aid, including artillery munitions, munitions for NASAMS air defense systems and High Mobility Artillery Missile Systems (HIMARS).
Zelensky has repeatedly called on the West to buy more weapons, including air defense systems, after Russian drones hit energy targets for the third time in six days.
Russia has warned that equipment supplied by Ukraine to the US would be a legitimate target for Russian strikes.
Zelensky earlier made a surprise trip to the eastern frontline city of Bakhmut, his office said, underscoring Russia’s stammering but persistent attempts to capture him.
In his overnight video address, Zelensky called the visit a trip to the “Bakhmut fortress” in Donetsk, a province claimed by Russia in September. Most countries reject Russia’s claim as an illegal occupation.
Dressed in combat khaki, Zelensky presented the soldiers with medals to applause at the ruined industrial complex, according to a video released by his office.
In contrast, Putin awarded medals in the Kremlin to the Russian-appointed leaders of four Ukrainian regions that Russia has claimed to have annexed since invading its neighbor.
A video released to Ukrainian state news agency Ukrinform TV showed military personnel in Bakhmut handing Zelensky a Ukrainian flag with their signatures.
“We will take this to Congress and the President of the United States from the guys,” Zelensky said in the video. “We are grateful for the support. But it is not enough,” he added.
He urged the soldiers to keep their spirits up as the battle for Bakhmut, which symbolized the brutal brutality of war, enters its fifth month.
“The East is standing because Bakhmut is fighting. In fierce battles and at the cost of many lives, freedom is being defended here for all of us,” Zelensky wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
CALL FOR HELP
The US Senate has submitted a government funding bill that provides $44.9 billion. USD emergency aid for Ukraine and NATO allies. The money would be used for military training, equipment, logistics and intelligence support, as well as replenishment of US equipment sent to Ukraine.
The World Bank announced on Tuesday that it has approved an additional 610 million
Kyiv has argued that Western help is needed to strengthen its air defenses, as Russian airstrikes have repeatedly cut off electricity and water supplies in sub-zero winter temperatures.
Ukrainian officials say that Russian missiles and bombings are aimed at breaking the will of civilians.
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Ukrainians should prepare for new Russian attacks on energy infrastructure because he wants them to spend Christmas and New Year in the dark.
Reuters bureau reports; Writing by Grant McCool and Himani Sarkar; Edited by Cynthia Osterman and Robert Birsel
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