Biden and Zelensky planning to meet in Washington for Ukrainian president’s first foreign trip since war began


President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky plan to meet at the White House on Wednesday, according to two sources familiar with the plans, in a trip to Washington that tentatively includes addressing a joint session of Congress. Is.

Two separate sources said Zelensky is already on his way to Washington, for a visit that is his first outside Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion in February this year.

The White House visit, which has not been finalized and is being held tightly due to security concerns, will include meetings with Biden and senior administration officials and plans to send the country new defense aid. Be consistent with the management’s intent. The package will include Patriot missile systems.

Lawmakers also plan to visit Zielinski on Capitol Hill to speak Wednesday evening, though sources say that visit has not been finalized as officials work through security preparations.

The White House declined to comment on the potential visit or on Biden’s announcement or new announcements of security assistance. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would not confirm reports that Zielinski would come to the Capitol on Wednesday, saying, “I don’t know if that’s going to happen.”

“We don’t know yet. We just don’t know,” he said.

When asked by CNN if he had been given an invitation, he said: “No. Not until we know if he can come.”

The Ukrainian leader’s visit to Washington will mark a significant moment 10 months after Russia’s war in Ukraine began. Zelenskiy has emerged as an international figure in the Ukrainian resistance to the invasion and has spent much of the year asking nations for help.

He has taken these appeals into action, making his case for more weapons and funding at international summits and in global legislatures. He remained inside his country for the duration of the war, reflecting both his desire to rally from his besieged country and the uncertain security situation outside Ukraine.

At the start of the war, Zelensky remained holed up in the capital, Kyiv, often addressing the nation from undisclosed locations. More recently, he has traveled to some of the war fronts, including on Tuesday when he visited the front-line city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region. Ukrainian and Russian forces have been locked in brutal fighting there for months.

Zielinski, according to his office, met with soldiers and distributed awards. A video posted by state TV showed the president dressed in fatigues and presenting awards to soldiers. Bakhmut has seen some of the worst fighting in the entire country since Russian forces launched a heavy siege on the city in May, reducing it to ruins.

One member said Pelosi was calling members to say she would appear at the Capitol on Wednesday, fearing the chamber would be empty before the holiday break. Pelosi asked members to attend Wednesday night “for a special focus on democracy.”

Members of Parliament are expected to address Congress on Wednesday, according to several sources. But sources have warned that it may not be final yet due to security concerns.

Ukraine is calling on the United States to send an advanced long-range air defense system that is highly effective at intercepting ballistic and cruise missiles as it comes under fire from Russian missile and drone strikes that have hit critical infrastructure across the country. has destroyed

The Patriot missile battery will be the most effective long-range defense weapon system to be sent to the country, and officials say it will help secure airspace for NATO countries in Eastern Europe. CNN first reported last week that the US was planning to send Patriot systems to Ukraine.

It is unclear how many missile launchers will be deployed, but a typical Patriot battery includes a radar set that detects and tracks targets, computers, power generation equipment, an engagement control station and eight launchers. Each has four ready-to-fire. Missile

Once the plans are finalized, the Patriots are expected to be shipped quickly in the coming days and Ukrainians will be trained to use them at the US military base in Grafenwoehr, Germany.

Ukraine has been asking for the system for months, but the logistical challenges of getting it up and running have been enormous. Despite those obstacles, “the reality of what’s happening on the ground” forced the administration to make the decision, the senior administration official told CNN, noting the continued intensity of Russian missiles.

Unlike smaller air defense systems, Patriot missile batteries require a much larger crew, requiring dozens of personnel to operate them properly. Patriot missile batteries normally take several months to train, a process the US will now do under pressure from daily airstrikes near Russia.

The system is considered one of the most capable long-range weapons for defending airspace against incoming ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as some aircraft. Because of its long-range and high-altitude capability, it will likely shoot down Russian missiles and aircraft far from their intended targets inside Ukraine.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.


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