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Biden greeted Zelensky at the White House: the American people and the Ukrainian people “stand together with pride”

U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hold a press conference at the White House on December 21, 2022.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hold a press conference at the White House on December 21, 2022.

WASHINGTON —U.S. President Joe Biden welcomed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the White House on Wednesday (December 21), the first known trip abroad since Russia launched its war to invade Ukraine in February.

“The people of Ukraine continue to inspire the world,” Biden said. Inspire not only us, but the world, with their courage and how they choose to meet the future with their resilience and determination.

He said the American people and the Ukrainian people “stand together proudly.”

“Democrats, Republicans, and our allies in Europe, Japan, and elsewhere, make sure you have the economic, humanitarian, and security assistance you need,” Biden said. He also noted that 300 days have passed since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a “brutal attack on Ukraine’s right to exist as a state.”

Zelensky expressed to Biden in English “my heartfelt gratitude and that of all the Ukrainian people” for the bipartisan support of the United States.

“Our ordinary people thank you ordinary people in America,” he said.

Zelensky also presented Biden with a “crusade medal” belonging to a captain operating the HIMARS multiple launch rocket launcher on the front line, and the officer entrusted him with the medal to “a very brave president of the United States.” Biden accepted the medal, saying he was “ashamed but grateful.”

US President Biden and visiting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held talks at the White House on the afternoon of the 21st. Zelensky will also travel to the US Congress to give a speech. 

At a press briefing Tuesday night, a senior Biden administration official said Zelensky’s visit was symbolic and provided an opportunity to “underscore the enduring commitment of the United States to Ukraine.”

The official, who traditionally commented on the condition of anonymity, said: “It’s about sending a message to Putin, sending a message to the world, that the United States will support Ukraine, no matter how long it takes.”

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He also said: “President Putin grossly miscalculated the beginning of this conflict, he believed that the Ukrainian people would give in and NATO would split.” He was wrong on both counts. His estimation of our staying power is still wrong. That is what this visit will attest to.

Zelensky’s visit comes as U.S. lawmakers discuss another $45 billion in emergency aid to Ukraine, which would bring the total amount of U.S. wartime aid to more than $100 billion. Zelensky is scheduled to speak at a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night. He has now arrived at the Capitol.

William Courtney, a visiting senior fellow at the RAND Corporation, said: “At a time when some House Republicans and progressives are skeptical about aiding Ukraine, Zelensky may want to vigorously and publicly enlist U.S. support.” ”

A recent poll by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs found that 65 percent of Americans continue to support U.S. aid to Ukraine. 48 percent said the U.S. should support Ukraine “when needed,” while 47 percent wanted Washington to urge Kiev to achieve peace as soon as possible.

On the occasion of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Washington on the 21st, the Ukrainian Embassy in the United States displayed the color of the Ukrainian flag. Zelensky, accompanied by the US ambassador to Ukraine, first took a train to Poland on the 21st, and then flew to the United States by a special plane from the US government. 

Although Zelensky has not left Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion in late February, he has visited areas outside the capital, Kiev, including Tuesday’s trip to the eastern city of Bakhmut, where the Ukrainian army is engaged in fierce fighting. He also stopped in Poland on his way to Washington.

On my way to the US to strengthen the resilience and defense capabilities of 🇺🇦. In particular, @POTUS and I will discuss cooperation between 🇺🇦 and 🇺🇸. I will also have a speech at the Congress and a number of bilateral meetings.

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Patriot anti-aircraft missiles

Just as Zelensky arrived in the United States, the US Department of Defense announced an additional $1.85 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, including Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems and ammunition for a missile company, additional ammunition for the Hymas multiple launch rocket launcher, missiles, artillery, and other ammunition. This is the 28th time since August 2021 that Biden has authorized the use of this withdrawal authority.

“The $1 billion extracted this time will provide Ukraine with expanded air defense and precision strike capabilities, as well as more ammunition and critical equipment that Ukraine is effectively using for battlefield self-defense,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

He also noted that the United States is also announcing an additional $850 million in security assistance to Ukraine. This will bring an unprecedented $21.9 billion in U.S. security assistance to Ukraine since the current administration took office.

US President Biden announced at a press conference with Ukrainian President Zelensky on the 21st that a new batch of security assistance worth $1.85 billion will be provided to Ukraine, including the Patriot missile system. 

Zelensky has repeatedly urged the United States and other countries to provide air defense systems to help Ukraine respond to missile and drone strikes by Russian forces, which have hit cities across Ukraine and severely damaged infrastructure.

Ukrainian troops will be trained in third countries on how to use the Patriot missile system, the senior executive of the administration said, adding that the process “will take some time.”

Ben Hodges, a former commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, told the media Ukrainian: “Ukrainian soldiers are the fastest I’ve ever seen learning new technologies. I guess they will be trained like this somewhere in Germany or Poland.

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Hodges said the Patriot missile, designed to defend a limited area, is “the best in the world” for “shooting down cruise missiles and advanced aircraft,” but “not a killer app.”

At a joint press conference late Wednesday, Biden was asked why he didn’t give them all the weapons capabilities Ukraine requested. Biden said that the United States is providing Ukraine with the weapons and equipment it needs to defend itself and succeed on the battlefield.

“The idea that we should provide Ukraine with fundamentally different supplies than those already used on the ground will open up the possibility of splitting NATO, the European Union, and the world,” he said. ”

Biden said he devoted “hundreds of hours” to talking to European allies, urging them to continue supporting Ukraine.

“They totally understand, but they don’t want to go to war with Russia,” he said. They don’t want a third world war. ”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Wednesday that sending new weapons to Ukraine would deepen the conflict. He also said that Russia does not see an opportunity for peace talks with Ukraine.

The White House also sent a pessimistic message about the prospects for peace. The senior administration official said Moscow had shown no intention to start negotiations and that Biden would not push Ukraine to negotiate an end to the Russian-led war.

The official said Biden “will not pressure or push Zelensky to the negotiating table, he will work with Congress and our allies to put Ukraine in the best possible position on the battlefield so that when the time comes, they will be in the best possible position at the negotiating table.”

(This article draws on reports from The Associated Press and Reuters.)

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