Ukraine’s Zelenskyy to visit Washington, meet US officials

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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is scheduled to visit Washington on Wednesday in what would be his first publicized visit outside of the country since Russia launched its invasion in February, the White House has announced.

“The visit will underscore the United States’ steadfast commitment to supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes, including through the provision of economic, humanitarian, and military assistance,” the White House said in a statement.

Zelenskyy will meet US President Joe Biden and other senior US officials, a senior administration official told reporters.

The official said Biden would announce a new $2 billion weapons package for Ukraine on Wednesday, including a Patriot missile system.

Ukrainians will be trained in a third country, which the official would not name, before manning the system inside Ukraine. US troops would not be involved in operating the Patriot missile system in Ukraine. The official reiterated that the US does not seek to engage in fighting against Russia.

Zelenskyy will hold a joint press conference with Biden at the White House before going to Capitol Hill to address a joint session of Congress.

The Ukrainian president will only spend a “few short hours on the ground” before flying back to Ukraine, the official told reporters on a call.

Two sources from Capitol Hill previously said that the Ukrainian president would likely meet with lawmakers from the Democratic and Republican parties.

“It is our understanding he will be speaking in the Capitol tomorrow night,” a senior congressional aide said.

US-based outlet Punchbowl News was the first to report on Zelenskyy’s trip.

Washington has provided Ukraine with almost $20 billion in military aid since the invasion on February 24. Kyiv has been pleading for more lethal air-defense capabilities, with US officials hesitant to cross any so-called red lines Russia has set.

But in recent days, the US had agreed to provide the highly sought-after Patriot air defense system to Ukraine. US officials last week said this was to be announced within days and is now expected to be finalized during Zelenskyy’s trip.

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