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Zelensky Will Meet With Biden in Washington and Tackle Congress, Officers Say – The New York Instances

WASHINGTON — President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine will meet with President Biden on the White Home on Wednesday and later ship a prime-time tackle to a joint session of Congress, a daring journey overseas meant to reaffirm American assist for his nation, White Home officers introduced late Tuesday evening.

“300 days in the past, Russia launched a brutal assault in opposition to Ukraine,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White Home press secretary, stated in a press release confirming Mr. Zelensky’s journey to Washington. “The go to will underscore america’ steadfast dedication to supporting Ukraine for so long as it takes, together with by means of the availability of financial, humanitarian and navy help.”

Senior administration officers, who spoke on the situation of anonymity due to considerations about Mr. Zelensky’s security, stated the dangers concerned in such a go to — with the wartime chief leaving his nation for the primary time since Russia invaded Ukraine in February — have been excessive, and that planning for his arrival had been performed below intense secrecy.

Mr. Zelensky will arrive in america nearly 10 months after President Vladimir V. Putin ordered Russian troops into Ukraine and as Congress considers approving almost $50 billion in assist to assist Ukraine’s forces battle Russia subsequent yr. That will convey the overall quantity of American assist to greater than $100 billion.

“He’s a nationwide and world hero — I’m delighted to have the ability to hear from him,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, stated Tuesday after listening to of Mr. Zelensky’s go to.

The Ukrainian president’s journey comes as Russia’s assault heads right into a second, brutal yr. Russia’s hopes for a fast defeat of Ukraine failed, however have given strategy to a sequence of grinding and devastating assaults on civilians which have left main cities with out warmth or electrical energy within the bitter chilly of Ukraine’s winter.

Throughout his assembly with Mr. Biden on the White Home, Mr. Zelensky is about to simply accept the newest American pledge of navy help: a extremely subtle Patriot missile battery that senior administration officers stated would offer Ukraine with much better defenses in opposition to air assaults from Russian missiles and drones. The missile battery shall be a part of an almost $2 billion bundle of safety help that can even embody different assist for Ukraine’s air defenses.

White Home officers stated the announcement of the brand new safety bundle by the American president — with Mr. Zelensky by his aspect — was meant to ship a strong message to Mr. Putin and different world leaders, together with individuals in Ukraine and America, that Mr. Biden wouldn’t waver in his efforts to assist Ukraine defeat its Russian aggressors.

In her assertion Tuesday evening, Ms. Jean-Pierre stated the assembly of the 2 leaders would “underscore america’ enduring dedication to Ukraine” and was a part of a seamless effort by Mr. Biden to rally “the world to assist the individuals of Ukraine as they defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

A senior administration official stated that Mr. Biden wouldn’t come to the assembly on Wednesday “with a message that’s about pushing or prodding or poking Zelensky in any means” towards discovering a diplomatic finish to the conflict with Russia. The official, who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of the journey had not been formally introduced, stated Russia had given no indication it was prepared to have interaction in good-faith talks about ending the conflict.

However the official additionally stated Mr. Biden wouldn’t permit america to be drawn into an lively conflict with Russia on Ukraine’s behalf, a pledge the president had made earlier than Russian forces entered Ukraine on the finish of February.

After assembly with Mr. Biden and members of his nationwide safety group, Mr. Zelensky is anticipated to carry a information convention on the White Home, officers stated. He’ll then head to Capitol Hill for what’s more likely to be an electrifying look earlier than a joint session of Congress as Democratic management of the Home — and the reign of Consultant Nancy Pelosi of California as speaker — nears its finish.

Whereas Mr. Biden has vowed to proceed his assist “for so long as it takes,” he faces some resistance in Congress, the place Republicans are poised to take management of the Home on Jan. 3. Simply hours earlier than information of Mr. Zelensky’s go to broke, Republican leaders in that chamber had instructed rank-and-file lawmakers to oppose a roughly $1.7 trillion spending invoice that features the Ukraine assist.

What we take into account earlier than utilizing nameless sources. Do the sources know the knowledge? What’s their motivation for telling us? Have they proved dependable previously? Can we corroborate the knowledge? Even with these questions happy, The Instances makes use of nameless sources as a final resort. The reporter and at the very least one editor know the identification of the supply.

Some Republicans within the Home have repeatedly opposed earlier packages that despatched billions of {dollars} in navy and humanitarian assist to Ukraine, suggesting the cash is wasteful or higher spent in america. On Tuesday, Consultant Lauren Boebert of Colorado, a far-right Republican, posted on Twitter scoffing on the launch of the brand new assist.

Others indicated late Tuesday that their assist for Ukrainian assist can be outweighed by their opposition to the spending measure, which have to be handed by Friday to keep away from a authorities shutdown. Senator Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota, stated voting in opposition to the spending invoice “doesn’t imply we don’t assist Ukraine.”

“Our first obligation is to the individuals we work for, not the individuals he works for,” he stated of Mr. Zelensky.

The spending invoice, together with the funding for Ukraine, is anticipated to clear Congress by the top of the week, although votes for remaining passage haven’t but been scheduled.

Mr. Zelensky’s journey to america was set in movement 9 days in the past throughout a phone name between the 2 leaders, a senior administration official stated. The White Home formally invited Mr. Zelensky per week in the past, and plans for a speech to Congress started in earnest on Sunday, when the federal government of Ukraine confirmed his intention to journey to america.

Within the first days and weeks of the full-scale Russian invasion, a Russian assault meant to reap the benefits of the chief’s absence might need stirred confusion within the Ukrainian navy. However 10 months into the conflict, no outstanding navy analyst has lately questioned Ukrainian command and management of the navy.

Nevertheless, Russia’s navy and political management have an arsenal of missiles which might be often fired at Ukraine, and a barrage timed for a presidential journey overseas can be inside Russia’s capabilities. Such a salvo would possibly function a distraction for Mr. Zelensky or as a sign to Ukrainians or American officers that Russia has choices to answer deepening U.S.-Ukrainian ties.

Earlier than information of his go to was first reported by Punchbowl News on Tuesday night, there have been strategies that an uncommon session of Congress was within the works. Ms. Pelosi had despatched a letter to all Home lawmakers earlier within the day, asking them to attend the Wednesday evening session in particular person although they’ve the power to vote remotely.

“We’re ending a really particular session of the 117th Congress with laws that makes progress for the American individuals in addition to assist for our democracy. Please be current for a really particular give attention to democracy Wednesday evening,” Ms. Pelosi wrote.

Mr. Zelensky himself didn’t verify his journey to america throughout a surprise visit to the battered city of Bakhmut on Tuesday. Mr. Zelensky was given a flag by Ukrainian troopers who requested that he current it to Congress. He promised to provide it to Mr. Biden, in keeping with Ukrainian media who joined him on the journey.

Whereas his workplace had no official touch upon any imminent journey, the second was captured on digital camera. It was not clear, nevertheless, that Mr. Zelensky was really getting ready to go away the nation for the primary time because the conflict started.

Because the information of the potential go to emerged on Tuesday, a number of senators acknowledged it might be preferable for the Senate to move the spending measure — together with the safety help for Ukraine — earlier than Mr. Zelensky speaks to Congress.

“That will symbolize a best-case situation,” stated Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Republican. The spending invoice handed a procedural hurdle on Tuesday with a powerful 70 to 25 vote.

A couple of lawmakers acknowledged that they’d realized of the potential go to late Tuesday, however most lawmakers and aides appeared shocked by the information. Whereas a number of senior lawmakers, together with Ms. Pelosi and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority chief, have made journeys to Ukraine, Mr. Zelensky has not left because the conflict started. He spoke to Congress virtually earlier this year.

“That President Zelensky goes to make his first journey exterior the nation because the conflict started to talk to us, to thank us and to problem us to proceed to assist the Ukrainian individuals, I feel is the right ending to 2 years the place President Biden has had some landmark successes,” stated Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, who described Mr. Biden’s success rallying NATO and European allies behind Ukraine’s combat as the largest worldwide achievement this yr.

Reporting was contributed by Carl Hulse and Annie Karni from Washington, Andrew E. Kramer from Kyiv, and Marc Santora from Warsaw.

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