Zelenskyy meets with Biden, addressing Congress; live updates

USA News

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden pledged staunch and sustained support for Ukraine in its war with Russia as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy traveled to Washington on a monumental – and dramatic – mission to secure continued assistance from the United States.

Zelenskyy met with President Joe Biden at the White House Wednesday and will deliver a 7:30 p.m speech before a joint session of Congress during a historic visit to Washington on the 300th day of the Russian attack on the U.S. ally – and as some Republican lawmakers have indicated they may not be willing to provide such aid in the future.

“Ukraine is alive and kicking,” a defiant Zelenskyy, dressed in his green military garb, told lawmakers during his speech.

Earlier, Biden stood behind the Ukranian president.

“You will never stand alone,” Biden told Zelenskyy as both stood near each other during an extraordinary afternoon news conference in the packed East Room of the White House.

Zelenskyy applauded Biden’s support and said the next few months, where the harsh weather will test Ukrainian mettle and resources, will be crucial in deciding the war’s outcome.

“We need to survive this winter,” Zelenskyy told reporters. “This is the survival issue.”

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. President Joe Biden (R) and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy hold a joint press conference in the East Room at the White House on December 21, 2022.

Some two hours earlier, the Ukrainian president had arrived at the White House for his historic mission – a little after 2 p.m. – and was warmly greeted on the sunny but brisk winter day by Biden and first lady Jill Biden.

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, including nearly $2 billion for a strategically important Patriot Air Defense System. But it hasn’t come without pushback. 

President Biden welcomes President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine on the South Lawn of the White House, Dec 21, 2022. The Ukrainian President visited Washington to meet with Biden and US lawmakers. President Zelenskyy will also address a joint meeting of Congress at the Capitol during his first trip outside his country since Russia began its violent invasion of Ukraine in February.

The Ukrainian president will speak tonight at 7:30 ET even as some Republicans are demanding greater accountability from Biden and top Defense officials on how nearly $50 billion in aid already disseminated has been spent.

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 tries to bolster public and congressional support for the fight against Russia.

Latest developments:

  • Capitol Hill: The Ukrainian president arrived at the Capitol and met with Congressional leaders right before he was to deliver his speech tonight to a joint session.
  • Biden tete-a-tete: Zelenskyy met with Biden behind closed doors for more than two hours. Both presidents held a news conference to reaffirm their alliance. This evening, Zelenskyy will address a joint session of Congress.
  • Air defense assistance: Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the details of a $1.85 billion military package for Ukraine, including 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.
  • Billions in Ukraine aid: Congress is set to pass a spending bill this week that includes about $44 billion for Ukraine in military and humanitarian assistance Some Republicans have resisted giving what House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy has called a “blank check” to the U.S. ally.
  • New Russian ambassador: Hours before Zelenskyy was set to address Congress Wednesday, the Senate overwhelmingly confirmed a new ambassador to Russia. Lynne Tracy is a veteran foreign service officer with extensive experience in Russian affairs.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is set to visit Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, speaks during a joint news conference with Greece's President following their meeting at the Mariinskiy palace in Kyiv on Nov. 3, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine war live blog:

Zelenskyy: Russians must ‘defeat the Kremlin in their minds’

Zelensky said Ukrainians have rejected Moscow’s influence and Russians need to so the same.

“The Russian tyranny has lost control over us,” he said. “The Russians will stand a chance to be free only when they defeat the Kremlin in their minds.”

– Maureen Groppe

Zelenskyy gets several standing ovations

The standing ovations for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy began before he entered the House chamber for his historic address.

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