Zelenskyy set to meet Biden in US tomorrow – his first trip outside Ukraine since start of war

US News

Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to travel to the United States to meet President Joe Biden at the White House.

The trip would mark the first time the Ukrainian president has left Ukraine since Russia invaded on 24 February.

The visit has not yet been confirmed by Washington amid concerns over Mr Zelenskyy’s security and could still be called off at the last minute.

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The Ukrainian president is set to address Congress on Capitol Hill.

He will also meet congressional leadership and national security committee chiefs from the Republican and Democratic parties, according to Punchbowl News.

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said there would be a session of Congress on Wednesday evening which would have a “very special focus on democracy”.

More on Ukraine

US politicians are set to vote on a year-end spending package, including around $45bn (£37bn) in emergency assistance to Ukraine. Meanwhile the US is preparing to send Patriot surface-to-air missiles to aid the country in repelling Russia’s invasion.

The funding would be the biggest American infusion of assistance yet to Ukraine, surpassing President Biden’s $37bn (£30bn) emergency request and will ensure funding flows to the war effort for months to come.

Mr Zelenskyy has addressed various parliaments and international organisations by video throughout Russia’s invasion and has sent his wife to foreign capitals to call for support.

A highly symbolic trip to seal the deal on prolonged support

There’s the symbolism, and more.

Consider the images of a Ukrainian president with the freedom to travel, to address influential friends on Capitol Hill, and to shake hands on a deal for prolonged support and state-of-the-art weaponry.

It will be the picture to celebrate Ukrainian resilience and cement US backing. And for two presidents touching base, it’s timely.

Both will have noted the US lobby is against prolonging support for Ukraine.

Opinion polls indicate growing scepticism, articulated out loud by some figures in a Republican Party that will control the House of Representatives in the New Year.

This Biden-Zelenskyy meeting and the deal it seals pre-empts political complications that neither man wants.

Mr Biden’s big sell is in the long-term strategic benefit of a weakened Russia and a United States strengthened by leadership.

He is also invested in any future peace deal being done on terms favourable to the Ukrainian side, his side in this conflict.

When Mr Biden meets Mr Zelenskyy, they will talk big money for a high-stakes investment.

A surprise visit to troops on the frontline

It comes after Mr Zelenskyy made a surprise visit to troops in the frontline city of Bakhmut in Ukraine’s contested Donetsk province.

Visiting the scene of some of the most intense combat since Russia invaded Ukraine, Mr Zelenskyy praised his troops’ “courage, resilience and strength”.

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Zelenskyy says he believes Russia must be held accountable

In a video released by his office, Mr Zelenskyy was handed a Ukrainian flag and hinted at delivering it to US leaders.

“The guys handed over our beautiful Ukrainian flag with their signatures for us to pass on,” Mr Zelenskyy said.

“We are not in an easy situation. The enemy is increasing its army, and our people are braver and need more powerful weapons. We will pass it on from the boys to the Congress, to the president of the United States. We are grateful for their support, but it is not enough. It is a hint – it is not enough.”

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