A senior U.S. official said Biden will announce a new nearly $2 billion weapons package for Ukraine that will include a Patriot missile battery to help Kyiv defend against Russian missile bombing.
Zelenskiy’s visit, which had been arranged in secret until details emerged Tuesday night, was expected to last several hours.
He will hold talks with Biden and top national security advisers at the White House, participate in a joint press conference with Biden, and then go to the Capitol to address a joint session of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement that Biden invited Zelenskiy to Washington “to underscore America’s enduring engagement with Ukraine.”
“The visit will underscore the United States’ firm commitment to support Ukraine for as long as needed, including through the provision of economic, humanitarian, and military assistance,” he said.
Zelenskiy’s trip comes 300 days after Russia invaded Ukraine with the intention of capturing Kiev in days, a goal that quickly faded as the strength of Ukraine’s response, aided by billions in weaponry from the United States and its allies, turned Ukrainians into unexpectedly tough opponents.
Biden’s message to Zelenskiy, the official said, will be one of determination and conviction.
Biden will come face-to-face with the man he has spoken to regularly for the past 10 months, but who has not met in person since the war broke out. With Biden’s staunch support, the West has united behind Ukraine and sought to isolate Russia without engaging in direct conflict with Moscow.
Biden will not use the talks to push Zelenskiy to the negotiating table with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the official said.
The Biden administration has been stepping up diplomatic efforts to ensure that the transatlantic alliance opposing Russia’s invasion maintains unity.
“They will discuss every element of this conflict, including the situation on the battlefield and including the question of where the war is going from here,” the official said.
“The president doesn’t come with a message that is about pushing or pressuring Zelenskiy in any way. This is going to be a message of solidarity and support, coordination and alignment,” the official said.
The Biden administration has so far provided about $20 billion in military assistance to Ukraine, including artillery munitions and ammunition for NASAMS air defense systems and for High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
Reuters reported last week that Germany was the likely location for such training.
The two leaders discussed a possible visit in a Dec. 11 phone call and the White House three days later extended a formal invitation, the official said.
Zelenskiy accepted the invitation last Friday and the visit was confirmed on Sunday, the official said.
Biden has wanted to visit Ukraine, but security concerns have forced him to rule it out for now.
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