(Bloomberg) — Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy arrived in Washington ahead of a meeting with President Joe Biden and a speech to Congress in which he’ll appeal directly for continued support from his country’s most important ally.
Biden’s administration on Wednesday announced $1.85 billion in additional military aid to Ukraine, including a Patriot missile battery to help the country bolster its defenses this winter.
In his first trip outside his country since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, Zelenskiy will address Congress Wednesday evening after a meeting and news conference with Biden. Some Republicans have expressed skepticism or outright opposition to continued US support for the country.
His visit comes at a critical stage in the war. Ukraine has faced a barrage of Russian missile and drone attacks targeting its civilians and critical energy infrastructure in recent weeks, leading to power and water cuts.
Zelenskiy flew from Europe and arrived at Blair House, where foreign leaders are accommodated across the street from the White House, just before 1 p.m. in Washington.
He has pleaded for more advanced weapons systems to blunt Russian attacks and for additional energy and economic support as his country’s people brace for a brutal winter.
While the new US aid package includes a single Patriot battery, which can hit missiles and aircraft at higher altitudes than previous weaponry the Biden administration has provided, it does not include weapons such as tanks or fighter jets that Zelenskiy and other Ukrainians say they need to continue to push back Russian forces.
In their meeting, Biden and Zelenskiy will discuss strategy on the battlefield and sanctions and export controls placed on Russia, as well as economic, energy sector and humanitarian assistance, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters ahead of the trip.
—With assistance from Laura Litvan.
(Updates with additional details on the visit beginning in fifth paragraph)