Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday marked his first trip to the U.S. since the Russian invasion of Ukraine by thanking President Biden and Congress for the billions in military assistance that has been sent to his country.
Speaking in the Oval Office at the top of a bilateral meeting with Mr. Biden, the Ukrainian president said that he offered “all my appreciation from my heart and from the heart of all Ukrainians.” He thanked Mr. Biden, Congress and the “ordinary people” in the U.S. for their support.
He stressed that the “war is not over” and that his country faces many challenges in battling Russia.
Mr. Zelenskyy also awarded Mr. Biden a medal for his efforts to direct aid to the war-torn country.
Mr. Biden reaffirmed his support for Ukraine, saying the nation is “pursuing a just peace.
“I’m delighted you could make the trip,” Mr. Biden said, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “escalating his assaults on civilians and trying to “use winter as a weapon.”
The historic meeting between the two leaders came just moments after Mr. Biden greeted Mr. Zelenskyy at the White House. It is the first in-person meeting between the two men since the war began.
The visit also marks Mr. Zelenskyy’s first trip outside his home country since the war began in February.
Mr. Biden and first lady Jill Biden greeted Mr. Zelneskyy, who wore a casual army green sweatshirt as he arrived at the WhiteHouse. He shook hands with Mr. Biden before they went inside the oval office.
Later Wednesday, the two leaders will hold a joint press conference. In the evening, Mr. Zelenskyy will address Congress.
Moments before Mr. Zelenskyy arrived at the White House, he took to social media to thank Mr. Biden and congress for their “much-needed support.”
“I will hold a series of negotiations to strengthen the resilience and defense capabilities of Ukraine. In particular, we will discuss bilateral cooperation between Ukraine and the United States of America with US President Joseph Biden,” he said in a post. on his official telegram channel.
“I am in Washington today to thank the American people, the President, and the Congress for their much-needed support. And also to continue cooperation to bring our victory closer,” Zelensky said in a post on his official Telegram channel.
Mr. Biden will announce that the U.S. will provide advanced Patriot surface-to-air missiles, administration officials confirmed.
The two leaders are expected to discuss U.S. training and support to Ukraine and to focus on the way forward on the battlefield through what is expected to be a grueling winter as the Russian invasion marks 10 months.
The Patriots will be part of a $2 billion military-aid package, which comes on top of the nearly $20 billion already provided by the U.S. since the Russian invasion began in February, according to Pentagon figures.
Ukraine has long sought advanced air-defense weaponry to protect its cities from unrelenting Russian airstrikes.
The visit will also provide the opportunity for face-to-face meetings between the Ukrainian president and key members of Mr. Biden’s national security team and other Cabinet officials.
“President Biden will have the opportunity to reinforce that this support is not just about what we have done before, but what we will do today and what we will continue to do for as long as it takes,” a senior administration official said Tuesday evening.
“We know that in the days ahead, the conflict will continue, the official added. “The winter will be hard. And we will continue, day in and day out, to provide critical support to the Ukrainian people.”