Zelensky on his way to the United States

WASHINGTON/KYIV, Dec 21 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is on his way to the United States on his first public trip abroad since the start of Russia’s war of aggression. A meeting with US President Joe Biden is scheduled in Washington on Wednesday, and Zelenskyy will also deliver a speech to Congress. He was on his way to the United States “to build Ukraine’s resilience and defense capabilities,” Zelenskyy said on Twitter. US officials have said Biden will announce a new $2 billion weapons package for Ukraine, including Patriot anti-aircraft missiles. It should also increase pressure on the federal government to equip Ukraine with additional systems.

Presidential spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden invited Zelenskyy to Washington “to underscore the United States’ continued commitment to Ukraine.” “The visit will underscore the United States’ unwavering commitment to assisting Ukraine for as long as needed, including through the provision of economic, humanitarian, and military assistance.”

Zelenskyy will speak with Biden and senior White House national security advisers, attend a press conference with Biden, and then speak to Congress in a joint session of the Senate and House. A US official stressed that Biden would not urge Zelensky to enter into negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin when they first meet since the start of the war. The United States has so far provided $20 billion in military aid to Biden’s Ukraine, including the state-of-the-art Himar missile system. Above all, American support enabled the Ukrainian armed forces to retake areas occupied by Russia.

“IT IS NOT ENOUGH”

Regardless of this, Zelenskyj repeatedly asked the West to provide additional assistance and also to provide Western-style battle tanks and armored personnel carriers. The demand goes mainly to Germany for the Leopard 2 main battle tank. However, the federal government has so far refused to supply the device, citing the fact that no Western state has yet delivered such tanks to Ukraine. Chancellor Olaf Scholz has repeatedly stressed that he rejects Germany’s solitary efforts. Patriot missile defense systems, which Ukraine claims for air defense, are also under discussion.

After setbacks on the ground, in the final weeks of the war Russia increasingly began bombarding Ukrainian cities with rockets, particularly targeting critical infrastructure. In mid-November, a rocket landed in eastern Poland and therefore on NATO territory, but according to Western knowledge, it came from the Ukrainian air defense system. Germany then offered Poland the parking of Patriot systems. The Warsaw government initially wanted to continue supplying the systems to Ukraine, but Germany refused. This led to irritation between Warsaw and Berlin. In the meantime, however, it was agreed that the systems would be stationed in Poland to defend NATO territory.

The arms supply discussion could now enter a new cycle with Zelenskyj’s surprise visit to Washington. On Tuesday, the Ukrainian president was in the middle of the front line in the east of the country. During a visit to the besieged town of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, the president presented awards to his soldiers, videos showed. “The East stands because Bakhmut is fighting,” Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram. “In fierce battles and at the cost of many lives, freedom is defended here for all of us.” A video also shows how Ukrainian soldiers present the president with a signed flag in the yellow-blue national colors. “We will present them to Congress and the US President,” Zelenskyy said in the video. “We are grateful for the support, but it is not enough.”

Zelenskyy on his way to the United States – meeting with Biden and speech to Congress

Source: Reuters

Photo symbol: Image by Jorge Guillen on Pixabay

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