© Reuters. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visits Ukrainian servicemen at their posts in the frontline town of Bakhmut, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in the Donetsk region, Ukraine December 20, 2022. Press service of the President of Ukraine. /News via RE
By Tom Balmforth and Pavel Polityuk
WASHINGTON/KYIV (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is on his way to the United States on Wednesday to meet President Joe Biden, address Congress and look for “weapons, weapons and more” during his trip. his first foreign trip in 300 days since Russia invaded his country.
Zelenskiy said the visit was aimed at strengthening Ukraine’s “resilience and defense” amid Russia’s repeated attacks on energy and water supplies during the deadly winter.
Officials said air raid sirens sounded across Ukraine on Wednesday, but there was no immediate announcement of a new wave of attacks.
Presidential political adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Zelenskiy’s visit to the US showed a high level of trust between the two countries and gave him an opportunity to explain what weapons Kiev needed.
“This finally put an end to the efforts of the Russian side…
“This, of course, is not even close. The United States unequivocally supports Ukraine.
Biden will announce nearly $2 billion in military assistance to Ukraine, including a Patriot missile system to help the country defend itself against Russian missile volleys, a senior US official said.
“…Weapons, weapons and more. It’s important to personally explain why we need certain types of weapons,” Podolyak said. “Especially armored vehicles, the latest missile defense systems and long-range missiles.”
Zelenskiy’s visit is expected to last several hours.
He will meet Biden and top national security advisers at the White House, hold a joint press conference with the US president and then head to Capitol Hill to speak in a joint session of the US Senate and House of Representatives.
Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February with the aim of capturing Kyiv within a few days, a goal that quickly became distant. Russian President Vladimir Putin launched what he called Russia’s “special military operation” to “denuclearize” Ukraine at a time when Moscow is finally standing up to the West seeking to capitalize on the collapse of Ukraine. overthrow of the Soviet Union in 1991 by destroying Russia.
Since then, thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed, millions have been forced to flee, and entire cities have been reduced to rubble.
Biden will meet face-to-face with the man with whom he has spoken regularly for the past 10 months but has not met in person since the war broke out. The US official said he would not use the talks to push Zelenskiy to the negotiating table with Putin.
The Kremlin said on Wednesday it saw no chance of peace talks with Kiev. In a phone call with reporters, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the West’s continued supply of weapons to Ukraine would lead to “deepening” of the conflict.
The Biden administration has provided about $20 billion in military assistance to Ukraine, including ammunition, ammunition for the NASAMS air defense system, and the highly mobile artillery rocket system (HIMARS).
Zelenskiy has repeatedly called on the West to provide more weapons.
His office said on Tuesday he had made a surprise trip to the eastern front-line city of Bakhmut, underlining the importance of defending the city against the persistent but persistent efforts of Russia aims to take this city.
In his nightly video address, Zelenskiy called it a trip to “Bakhmut Fortress” in Donetsk, a province that Russia claimed in September. Most countries reject Russia’s claim to occupy illegal closure.
Dressed in combat khakis, Zelenskiy presented medals to soldiers in the rundown industrial complex to applause, video released by his office showed.
In contrast, Putin awarded medals in the comfort of the Kremlin to the Russian-appointed leaders of four regions of Ukraine that Russia claims to have annexed.
The video, released on Ukrinform TV, a division of Ukraine’s state news agency, shows servicemen in Bakhmut handing Zelenskiy a Ukrainian flag with their signatures on it.
“We will pass it on to Congress and the president of the United States from these people,” Zelenskiy said in the video. “We are grateful for the support. But that is not enough,” he added.
Putin on Tuesday acknowledged problems with Russian forces in parts of Ukraine, including what Russia calls the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in the east.
Ukraine’s Luhansk regional military administration says Russian mining has slowed Ukrainian forces in the region.
“The most difficult direction along the entire front line is Bakhmut,” it said on Telegram. “The Russians aim to get at least some wins there.”
The US Senate has passed a government funding bill that includes $44.9 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine and its NATO allies. This money will be used to support military training, equipment, logistics and intelligence, as well as to replenish US equipment sent to Ukraine.
The World Bank on Tuesday said it had approved an additional funding package for Ukraine totaling $610 million to address emergency relief and recovery needs.