In his first trip outside his home nation since Russia invaded in February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived at the White House on Wednesday.
After meeting with President Biden behind closed doors the pair made brief remarks ahead of a formal press conference that was scheduled for 4pm Eastern Time.
Zelensky is also expected to address a joint meeting of Congress at 7:30pm Eastern Time.
During their first brief photo op in the White House, Biden remarked on the 300 days of the war so far, criticizing Russia for its “brutal assault on the Ukrainians’ right to exist as a nation, and the attack on innocent Ukrainian people for no reason other than to intimidate.”
Zelensky thanked President Biden and the Congress for their support and added, “thanks from our just ordinary people to your ordinary people, Americans.”
Already today, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced an additional $1.85 billion in security assistance for Ukraine, including the first transfer of the Patriot missile system.
Further, Congress is within days of having to pass its $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill to keep the government running past Friday, and language within the bill includes $27.9 billion in emergency Department of Defense spending for Ukraine on top of a $69.3 billion budget increase for the Pentagon over fiscal year 2022 levels.
Zelensky’s visit comes as Ukraine enters a very dangerous time because of the energy warfare Russia is waging against the country. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Tuesday that emergency outages were being implemented in 11 oblasts as Russian drone strikes targeted energy grids—or as President Biden put it on Wednesday, Putin was “trying to use winter as a weapon.”
The Ukrainian President arrived in the U.S. on the same day that the Kremlin announced the Russian military would be increasing its personnel from 1 million to 1.5 million members, including 695,000 volunteer contract soldiers.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, to meet with President Alexander Lukashenko, magnifying long-held fears that the Russian ally’s forces could join a new offensive.