© Reuters. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy delivers a soldier’s gift to U.S. President Joe Biden in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 21, 2022. REUTERS / Leah Millis
By Steve Holland and Nandita Bose
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden welcomed Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy to the White House on Wednesday with fresh assurances of U.S. support for Ukraine’s defense from an onslaught by a U.S. onslaught. Russia.
“First of all, thank you,” Zelenskiy told Biden during an Oval Office meeting, after arriving on the South Lawn of the White House in a black Chevrolet with tinted windows, wearing an umbrella-blue sweater and pants. its own characteristic.
“It’s an honor to be here.”
Biden wears a blue suit and yellow-green striped tie, the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
The President of Ukraine, who said he wanted to come to the United States sooner, expressed gratitude to Biden, the US Congress and ordinary Americans for their support since Russia invaded his country. at the end of February.
He presented Biden with the Ukrainian cross for military merit, presented by a captain of the HIMARS missile unit to which it was awarded.
The US-supplied HIMARS missile systems proved pivotal to Ukraine’s attacks in August to drive Russian troops out of Kharkiv and then Kherson last month, underpinning Ukraine’s strategy to target attack Russian command and control nodes, logistics routes and ammunition depots.
The White House said the officer met Zelenskiy in Bakhmut, a frontline city in eastern Ukraine, earlier this week and asked him to give Biden the medal as a token of his gratitude.
The official also wrote Biden a letter expressing Ukraine’s appreciation for the US support that has helped keep many people in Ukraine alive, according to the White House.
“Well, unworthy but appreciated,” Biden said as he accepted his medal from Zelenskiy, promising to give the Ukrainian captain a coin commander from the US battlefield in Iraq, where his late son was Beau fought.
The White House said Biden then handed two command coins to Zelenskiy, one to the captain and one to the president of Ukraine.
Biden also pledged to strengthen Ukraine’s air defense capabilities. “That’s why we will provide Ukraine with a battery of Patriot missiles and train your forces to be able to use it correctly,” he said.
“He was man of the year,” Biden told Zelenskiy of his decision to put him on the cover of Time Magazine.