WASHINGTON – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will meet with President Joe Biden at the White House Wednesday and deliver a prime-time speech before a joint session of Congress on the 300th day of the Russian attack on the U.S. ally.
He’s scheduled to arrive at the White House around 2 p.m.
Zelenskyy’s visit comes as Biden and Congress reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine by sending billions in humanitarian and military aid to the war-ravaged country, but it hasn’t come without pushback.
The Ukrainian president will speak tonight even as some Republicans are vowing for greater accountability from Biden and top Defense officials on how nearly $50 billion in aid already disseminated has been spent.
Though Congress is set to pass another $44 billion in Ukraine aid through the omnibus spending bill expected to pass this week.
Zelenskyy’s visit – his first outside his home country since the war began in late February – comes with a sense of urgency. It’s a whirlwind, wartime trip that is seen as a major security risk for the Ukrainian president, and it’s an opportunity to make a personal appeal to Washington as he attempts to bolster pubic and congressional support for the fight against Russia.
During Zelenskyy’s White House visit this afternoon, Biden is expected to announce a nearly $2 billion pledge of Patriot anti-missile batteries that will help Ukraine defend against Russian air attacks.
Biden invited Zelenskyy to Washington to reinforce the U.S. “stands with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” said a senior Biden administration official who discussed the trip on the condition of anonymity.
Ukraine war live blog:https://www.usatoday.com/news/ukraine/
A timeline of Zelenskyy’s whirlwind trip to Washington
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to Washington will be a whirlwind, over in just a matter of hours, before it’s back to Ukraine where Russia’s war still rages. Here’s a breakdown:
- 2 p.m. Biden will greet Zelenskyy on the White House’s South Lawn.
- 2:30 p.m. Biden and Zelenskyy will hold a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office where the two leaders are expected to discuss all aspects of the war. Biden will also commit nearly $2 billion in additional security assistance.
- 4:30 p.m. Biden and Zelenskyy will hold a joint press conference from the East Room of the White House.
- 6:15 p.m. Zelenskyy will meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at her office.
- 7:30 p.m. Zelenskyy will deliver an address to a joint Congress, making the case for continued U.S. support for Ukraine’s defense against Russia. Zelenskyy is then expected to return immediately to Ukraine.
– Joey Garrison
U.S. to provide Patriot missile system, $1.85 billion in military aid to Ukraine
The U.S. announced an additional $1.85 billion in military assistance to Ukraine on Wednesday ahead of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to the White House to meet with President Joe Biden.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the package includes the transfer of the Patriot Air Defense System – the most advanced air weaponry the Biden administration has provided Kyiv to date in its battle against Russia.
Kyiv had long pressed for expanded air defense capabilities, and the inclusion of the Patriot system in the latest tranche of aid will help Ukraine to protect its military bases and civilian infrastructure from Russian missiles.
Total U.S. military assistance to Ukraine now stands at $21.9 billion, and lawmakers are looking to add billions more to the war effort in a spending deal that is currently under consideration in Congress.
– Francesca Chambers
Zelenskyy is the sixth President of Ukraine, elected in April 2019. The 44-year-old unseated incumbent Petro Poroshenko with 73% of the vote. Poroshenko had been in office since 2014.
Since Russia invaded in February 2022, Zelenskyy has been the face of Ukrainian resistance, notably for his visibility online and his pleas to other countries for support.
Zelenskyy’s career in entertainment includes comedy, acting, screenwriting, producing and directing roles. In 2003, he founded production company Studio Kvartal 95 with school friends. Kvartal 95 produces films, cartoons and comedy shows, including “Servant of the People,” perhaps Zelenskyy’s most well-known role other than the highest seat in Ukraine.
It was a conversation between former President Donald trump and Zelenskyy that led to the House filing an impeachment inquiry against Trump in 2019. An unnamed official in the intelligence community filed a complaint saying Trump had a phone call with Zelenskyy where he reportedly urged the Ukrainian president to investigate Burisma Group, a Ukrainian energy company for which President Joe Biden’s son Hunter had served on the board of directors, as his administration was holding up millions of dollars in military aid for Ukraine approved by Congress.
After Trump was acquitted, Zelenskyy pushed back on Trump’s claims that Ukraine was a corrupt country.
– Clare Mulroy
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