Zelenskyy arrives at White House for meetings with Biden, senior officials US president welcomes Ukrainian leader for Zelenskyy's first visit abroad since Russia began its war 10 months ago

Zelenskyy arrives at White House for meetings with Biden, senior officials US president welcomes Ukrainian leader for Zelenskyy's first visit abroad since Russia began its war 10 months ago

WASHINGTON

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived Wednesday at the White House for key meetings with President Joe Biden and senior US officials in what marks his first trip abroad since Russia began its war 10 months ago.

Biden greeted Zelenskyy on the South Lawn of the White House and held a brief joint photo session before they went behind closed doors for discussions. The leaders are expected to address reporters before Zelenskyy goes to Capitol Hill to address a joint session of Congress.

During their meeting, Biden and Zelenskyy will "have an in-depth strategic discussion on the way ahead on the battlefield, on the capabilities and training that the US and our allies will continue to provide to Ukraine," as well as address economic and energy sector assistance and humanitarian aid, a senior administration official told reporters Tuesday.

"We will also have the opportunity along with Congress to mark the work to pass a significant package of additional funding for Ukraine for 2023," said the official, adding that the bipartisan package is expected to include more than $40 billion in funding for Ukraine.

Congress is currently hashing out details on a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill to fund the government through the current fiscal year and is expected to vote on the package, which will include the additional funding for Ukraine, by the end of the week.

The Biden administration earlier Wednesday announced its first transfer of a Patriot defense system to Ukraine as part of a new $1.85 billion military aid package. The package also includes expanded precision-strike capabilities, additional munitions and other "critical equipment that Ukraine is using so effectively to defend itself on the battlefield," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

With Wednesday's announcement, the US will have provided Ukraine with $21.9 billion in assistance since January 2021.

The Patriot system is capable of intercepting cruise missiles, short-range ballistic missiles and warplanes "at a significantly higher ceiling than previously provided air defense systems," said Blinken.

The Kremlin had warned Washington against providing Ukraine with the system, saying last Thursday that any deliveries would raise the risk of Washington’s direct involvement in the conflict.

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