Why Ukraine’s Zelensky is making a dangerous journey to fulfill Biden

Making a dramatic, dangerous wartime go to, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived on the White Home Wednesday and met with President Biden in a bid to shore up and maintain assist for his nation’s brutal battle with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Along with a heat welcome from Biden, administration officers and enthused supporters of Ukraine, Zelensky was greeted with the president’s announcement of $1.8 billion in new assist, together with a classy Patriot missile battery that Kyiv has lengthy sought.

Carrying drab olive fatigues, Zelensky stood for a second in frigid daylight on a purple carpet going through the South Garden of the White Home. Biden and First Woman Jill Biden, flanked by U.S. and Ukrainian flags, shook Zelensky’s hand and whispered just a few feedback. Then Biden put his arm round Zelensky and the trio turned and entered the White Home collectively.

Zelensky’s go to to the U.S., his first identified journey outdoors his nation since Russia invaded 300 days in the past, was a carefully guarded secret till the eve of his arrival. It’s fraught with danger and hazard and shrouded in excessive safety measures.

After the White Home assembly with Biden, Cupboard members and the U.S. nationwide safety crew, the youthful chief — whose nightly video addresses have served as an necessary morale booster for his folks — will maintain a information convention geared toward reaching the American public.

“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 stated on his official Telegram channel forward of his arrival on the White Home.

Later, he’ll meet Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and ship a speech to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill.

Firstly of his journey, Zelensky arrived in Poland by practice, accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink, earlier than flying on a U.S. Air Power jet to a army base outdoors Washington. He arrived round midday native time, was greeted by American army officers and the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., and was transported by motorcade to the guts of the nation’s capital, the place a yellow-and-blue Ukrainian flag flew over Blair Home, the standard lodging for visiting heads of state.

Zelensky has beforehand used video communication to make impassioned pleas for assist to nationwide legislative our bodies the world over, in addition to the United Nations and gatherings of world leaders at main summits.

An in-person look within the capital of Ukraine’s most necessary ally carries extraordinary significance. Zelensky will be capable of emphasize that Ukraine has defied predictions of a swift collapse within the face of Russian army would possibly. He will even be capable of draw extra consideration to his nation’s want for continued assist.

As some Republicans start to query whether or not army and humanitarian help for Ukraine ought to proceed at present ranges, and as sure components of the U.S. public start to indicate indicators of impatience with the struggle effort, Zelensky’s name for steadfast American backing has taken on added urgency.

On Wednesday morning, simply hours earlier than Zelensky’s arrival, Biden introduced a brand new tranche of $1.8 billion in assist. That assist will embody a Patriot missile battery, the surface-to-air guided missile system Kyiv has requested for months, in line with a senior administration official. The Pentagon calls the Patriot system “one of the world’s most advanced air defense capabilities.”

U.S. forces will practice Ukrainians on utilizing the system in a 3rd nation, the official stated, and “Ukrainian troops will take that training back to their country to operate this battery.”

Lawmakers are additionally getting ready to vote on a $1.7-trillion end-of-year funding invoice for 2023 that features $45 billion of further financial and safety help for Ukraine. Some Home Republicans have expressed reluctance to approve extra help for Ukraine after they take management of the decrease chamber subsequent yr, however a senior administration official informed reporters the White Home is “confident” of continued bipartisan assist for Kyiv. Zelensky’s look on Capitol Hill would underscore that dedication, the official added.

“This isn’t about sending a message to a political party. This is about sending a message to [Vladimir] Putin and sending a message to the world that America will be there for Ukraine for as long as it takes,” stated the official, who briefed reporters the situation of anonymity to debate particulars of the journey.

In remarks on the Senate ground Wednesday, Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stated that continued assist for Ukraine was not solely morally proper however “a direct investment in cold, hard, American interests.”

Defeating Russia, McConnell stated, would additionally “send a stark warning” to China.

Zelensky’s assembly with Biden might be his second look on the White Home. The 2 leaders first met in September 2021, when Biden reiterated his administration’s dedication to “Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression” and American assist for Kyiv’s “Euro-Atlantic aspirations.”

Biden invited Zelensky for this go to when the 2 spoke by cellphone on Dec. 11; a proper invitation adopted three days later, in line with an official. Zelensky accepted the invite on Friday. On Sunday, the White Home started coordinating with Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s workplace to rearrange Zelensky’s look earlier than Congress. Pelosi hinted at Zelensky’s go to in a letter to colleagues on Tuesday, urging members to seem in particular person “for a very special focus on Democracy.”

In saying the joint session of Congress, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Jap time, Pelosi stated Zelensky’s look recalled Winston Churchill’s congressional go to on the day after Christmas in 1941 to win American assist in World Struggle II. Pelosi’s father, Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., was a member of the Home on the time.

“Eighty-one years later this week, it is particularly poignant for me to be present when another heroic leader addresses the Congress in a time of war — and with Democracy itself on the line,” she wrote.

The Ukrainian president has change into a family identify in Washington, having performed a key function in former President Trump’s first impeachment trial. As a newly elected president, Zelensky obtained a name from Trump threatening to chop off army assist to Ukraine except he dug up dust on Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. Joe Biden, then a Democratic rival getting ready to launch his presidential bid, had led an anti-corruption push in Ukraine as vp.

Ukraine had already been at restricted struggle with Russia, after Putin invaded and illegally annexed Crimea, Ukraine’s southern Black Sea peninsula, in 2014.