Ukraine’s President, Zelensky To Meet Biden In US
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky will meet the United States President, Joe Biden on Wednesday.
The trip will be his first foreign trip since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
Zelensky will address Congress in Washington and hold a number of meetings in the US. The White House said will send Russia a strong message of Western unity.
The secretly arranged trip comes on the same day Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to meet his top military officials to assess the conflict in Ukraine and set goals for next year in what the Kremlin described as an “important, voluminous speech”.
The visit will “underscore the United States’ steadfast commitment to supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
Instead, the visit to Washington comes on the 300th day of a war that has seen Russian forces halted by a stubborn Ukrainian army backed by Western arms, forced to retreat from the captured territory and struggle to avoid further setbacks.
“On my way to the US to strengthen resilience and defence capabilities of (Ukraine),” Zelensky tweeted, confirming that he will make a speech to Congress.
On my way to the US to strengthen resilience and defense capabilities of 🇺🇦. In particular, @POTUS and I will discuss cooperation between 🇺🇦 and 🇺🇸. I will also have a speech at the Congress and a number of bilateral meetings.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) December 21, 2022
Zelensky will visit the White House where Biden is to announce a new arms package worth almost $2 billion that a senior administration official said includes Patriot air defence missiles.
Patriot missiles are seen as crucial to help Kyiv fend off Russia’s punishing missile and drone attacks on its infrastructure.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that new weapons deliveries would lead to an “aggravation of the conflict” and do not “bode well for Ukraine”.
He added that during the visit, Moscow does not expect Ukraine to change its stance on peace talks – including refusing to negotiate while Putin is in power.
Zelensky is also expected to address a joint session of Congress, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said would be “a very special focus on democracy.”
The visit was quietly planned, beginning with a phone call between Biden and Zelensky on December 11, followed by a formal invitation one week ago and confirmation of the visit on Sunday.
Details of the visit leaked on Tuesday afternoon, with officials stressing to US media that there were still security concerns over Zelensky’s travel.
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