The move, which requires a substantial security system, will only last a few hours. Time for a visit to the Oval Office and a speech to Congress, with a few billion in aid up for grabs.
A first since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has not left his country since the start of the war on February 24, will be received this Wednesday at the White House by Joe Biden before addressing the American Congress, during a visit to already historic. This exit, which comes on the 300th day since the beginning of the conflict, underlines that the United States will support Ukraine “as long as it takes“, declared Karine Jean-Pierre, spokesperson for the American executive, in a press release formalizing the event.
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
A senior American official indicated that the visit had been mentioned on December 11 during a phone call between the two heads of state, and that it had been confirmed on Sunday. During a trip to the front on Tuesday, in the city of Bakhmout (East), the Ukrainian president had in a way already lifted the veil: receiving a flag from the hand of fighters, he had declared: “We’re going to give it to the US Congress, to the US President. We are grateful for their support but it is not enough“.
Zelensky’s last trip to the United States was on September 1, 2021, when the Russian invasion was a threat that only Washington and Kyiv took seriously. The Ukrainian president had been received in the Oval Office by Joe Biden, who had promised to support him against Russia.
This Wednesday, the same two men, the same place but a completely different historical scope: it is their first meeting in the flesh since Russia invaded Ukraine, making Volodymyr Zelensky a known warlord around the world, and of Joe Biden the Commander-in-Chief of the Western response to Russia.
Significant US aid
During this trip with incredible security constraints and which will only last a few short hours, the Ukrainian head of state will first have a meeting with the American president and his teams at the White House, before a press conference, detailed a senior US executive during an interview with reporters.
According to this source, who requested anonymity, the American executive will unveil for the occasion a new component of aid from “nearly $2 billionto Ukraine, including a Patriot surface-to-air missile system. The announcement of the shipment of this jewel of American military technology, long demanded by kyiv, should not fail to make Russia react.
Then the Ukrainian President will address the full Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate. US parliamentarians are preparing to vote on a new massive package of support for Ukraine, of nearly 45 billion dollars. They will hear Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech when Congress will partially switch to the side of the Republican opposition in January, which raises some questions about the future Ukrainian policy of the United States.
The United States, by far the largest donors to kyiv, has already provided, according to expert estimates, nearly 50 billion dollars in aid to the country at war, including 20 billion in arms and military assistance.
Putin takes stock
This visit sounds like a challenge to Vladimir Putin. The Russian president is indeed convening a major military meeting today after admitting on Tuesday a situation “extremely difficultin the four regions of southern and eastern Ukraine which Moscow claims should be annexed. He wants to draw the conclusions of the past year and set the objectives of his army for 2023.
The Russian president therefore intends to take stock on Wednesday with some 15,000 military officials, by videoconference. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu will report in particular on “the progress of the special military operation“.
After a series of Russian military setbacks in northeastern and southern Ukraine, most of the fighting is currently concentrated in the East. Russia has been massively bombing Ukraine’s energy infrastructure since October, causing power and water cuts.
The delivery of a Patriot surface-to-air missile system is intended to respond to these “barbarian attackssaid the White House official. However, he specified that the Ukrainian army would have to be trained in the handling of this sophisticated machine, which will be done “in a third country” and “will take some time“.
Zelensky on visit to Washington, a first since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia