February 6, 2023

ZIK MILLER, LISA MASCARO and E. EDUARDO CASTILLO

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a cheeky wartime go to to Washington on Wednesday to thank U.S. leaders and “bizarre People” for his or her assist in repelling the Russian invasion and to demand additional help within the brutal months forward. President Joe Biden and Congress responded with billions of {dollars} of latest support and a promise to assist Ukraine obtain a “simply peace.”

Biden welcomed Zelensky to the Oval Workplace, saying the US and Ukraine will proceed to design “unified protection” as Russia wages “a vicious assault on Ukraine’s proper to exist as a nation.” Zelenskiy, on his first recognized journey exterior his nation since Russia’s invasion in February, mentioned he wished he had come earlier, and now his go to has proven that “the state of affairs is underneath management due to your assist.”

A really delicate journey got here after 10 months of brutal struggle, which resulted in tens of hundreds of casualties on either side and the devastation of the Ukrainian civilian inhabitants. Zelensky’s go to was meant to provoke U.S. and international assist for his nation amid fears that allies are beginning to tire of a expensive struggle and its disruption to international meals and vitality provides. Shortly earlier than his arrival, the U.S. introduced the most important single cargo of weapons to Ukraine, together with Patriot anti-aircraft missile methods, and Congress deliberate to vote on a spending package deal that features about $45 billion in emergency support to Ukraine.

Biden mentioned Russia is “attempting to make use of winter as a weapon, however Ukrainians proceed to encourage the world,” Biden mentioned. He advised Zelenskiy, who was wearing a fight inexperienced sweater and boots, that “I am honored to be by your facet.”

At a joint press convention within the East Room, Biden mentioned “it is necessary for the American individuals and for the world to listen to instantly from you, Mr. President, about Ukraine’s battle and the necessity to proceed to face collectively till 2023.” ”

Within the night after the assembly on the White Home, the Ukrainian president was to handle Congress, which was attended by Vice President Kamala Harris.

Zelenskiy traveled overseas after a daring and harmful journey Tuesday to what he described as the most well liked spot on the struggle’s 1,300-kilometer (800-mile) entrance line, the city of Bakhmut in Ukraine’s contested Donetsk area. He praised Ukrainian troops for his or her “braveness, resilience and power” as artillery rumbled within the background.

Polish non-public broadcaster TVN24 reported that Zelensky crossed the Polish border early within the morning on his method to Washington. The channel confirmed footage of how Zelensky arrived on the station and was escorted to the motorcade of American SUVs. TVN24 reported that the video, partially blurred for safety causes, was filmed in Przemysl, a Polish border city that was the vacation spot for a lot of refugees fleeing the struggle.

Officers shied away from Zelenskiy’s journey plans, citing safety considerations, however a US official confirmed that Zelenskiy arrived on a US Air Drive aircraft that landed at Joint Base Andrews close to the capital from the Polish metropolis of Rzeszow.

Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in her invitation to Zelensky to talk with lawmakers, mentioned “the battle for Ukraine is a battle for democracy itself” and that they look ahead to “your inspiring message of unity, resilience and dedication.”

US and Ukrainian officers have made it clear that they see no fast decision to the struggle and are getting ready for the preventing to proceed for a while. The most recent infusion of U.S. cash would be the largest – and can exceed Biden’s request by $37 billion.

Biden reiterated that whereas the US would arm and practice Ukraine, US forces wouldn’t be instantly concerned within the struggle.

Biden and Zelenskiy first mentioned the concept of ​​a go to throughout a December 11 telephone name, with a proper invitation following three days later, in line with a senior US administration official. Zelensky accepted the invitation on Friday, and it was confirmed on Sunday when the White Home started coordinating with Pelosi to stage a speech to Congress.

The White Home has consulted with Zelenskiy on safety points, together with the danger of Russian motion whereas he was briefly in a foreign country, mentioned the official, who declined to elaborate on the measures taken to guard the Ukrainian chief. The official briefed journalists on situation of anonymity as a result of delicate nature of the go to.

The $1.85 billion US army support package deal will for the primary time embody a Patriot missile battery and precision-guided bombs for its fighter jets, in line with US officers. It represents an growth of superior weapons designed to spice up Ukraine’s air defenses towards an intensifying barrage of Russian missiles.

The Russian Overseas Ministry mentioned the supply of the superior anti-aircraft missile system can be thought-about a provocative transfer and that the system and any accompanying crews can be a official goal for Moscow’s army.

It’s not but clear when the Patriot battery will arrive on the entrance traces in Ukraine, on condition that US troops must practice Ukrainian troops. The coaching can take a number of weeks and is predicted to happen in Germany.

The go to comes at a pivotal second because the White Home is poised for much more resistance when Republicans take management of the Home in January and watch support to Ukraine extra carefully. Republican Celebration chief Kevin McCarthy of California mentioned his celebration wouldn’t subject a “card-card” for Ukraine.

Biden and Zelensky spoke often on the telephone, with Biden praising Ukraine for remaining steadfast towards the Russians, and Zelensky thanking the US president for his assist.

Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer opened the Home by saying that the adoption of the help package deal and the appointment of a brand new U.S. ambassador to Russia, Lynn M. Tracy, would ship a robust sign that People assist Ukraine “unreservedly”. Tracy was later confirmed by a 93-2 vote.

Schumer, a Democrat from New York, mentioned Zelensky is coming not solely as president, however as “an envoy for freedom itself.”

The highest Republican within the Senate, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, mentioned that “essentially the most fundamental causes for persevering with to assist Ukraine degenerate and defeat Russian invaders are America’s chilly, arduous, sensible pursuits.” He mentioned that “defeating Russian aggression will assist forestall additional safety crises in Europe.”

The Russian invasion, which started on February 24, misplaced momentum. Fierce preventing continues within the illegally annexed Donetsk, Kherson, Lugansk and Zaporozhye areas.

As preventing within the east stalled, Moscow has used missiles and drones to assault Ukrainian vitality gear, hoping to go away individuals with out energy when the chilly units in.

In a video launched by his workplace throughout a go to to Bakhmut, Zelensky was handed a signed Ukrainian flag and hinted at giving it to US leaders. “We’re grateful for his or her assist, however this isn’t sufficient,” he mentioned. “It is a trace – it isn’t sufficient.”

Volodymyr Fesenko, head of the Kyiv-based Penta Middle assume tank, mentioned Zelensky’s go to to the US “ought to decide the course of the struggle – Zelensky has dared to go away Ukraine for the primary time and is relying on having the ability to preserve, and even perhaps strengthen, the army and financial US assist.”

Anna Danilovich, 43, who lives in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, and works as a scientist, welcomed the prospect of further army provides, saying “there’s a nice want and dream to speed up the elimination of the Russian evil from our land.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday advised his nation’s army management that Russia would obtain its said objectives in Ukraine and use fight expertise to strengthen its armed forces. His Protection Minister Sergei Shoigu mentioned the Russian military ought to be elevated from its present 1 million to 1.5 million throughout the preventing in Ukraine.

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Castillo reported from Kyiv, Ukraine. Related Press contributors Lolita S. Baldor, Tara Kopp, Aamer Madhani, Chris Megerian and Seung Min Kim in Washington, Hanna Arkhirova in Kyiv, and Andrew Catell in New York contributed to this report.

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Observe AP’s protection of Russia’s struggle in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

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