WASHINGTON — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will visit President Biden at the White House on Wednesday and will address Congress in a trip aimed at underscoring U.S. support for the country as Russia’s war against its neighbor drags on.
Watch Presdident Zelenskyy’s address to Congress below at 6:30pm CT
During the visit, Biden will announce nearly $2 billion in new security aid, including a Patriot surface-to-air missile battery, a senior administration official told reporters on a conference call. The United States will train Ukraine’s military how to use the Patriot in a third country, the official said, noting it will take time before it is operational in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian president’s visit is the first to the U.S. since Russia launched its attack in February. It also comes as lawmakers are preparing to vote on an omnibus spending bill that includes $44.9 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine and NATO allies.
Congress is voting on sending more aid
The U.S. has been a strong ally of Ukraine in its war against Russia. So far, lawmakers have provided over $65 billion in aid to Ukraine, including humanitarian aid.
Some Republicans in the House have expressed concern about the billions of dollars of military and economic aid sent to the country since the war began. In October, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said he was wary about giving Ukraine a “blank check.” McCarthy is poised to become speaker of the House in January.
The senior administration official insisted that the fanfare around the visit was not aimed at quelling complaints about the spending.
“This isn’t about sending a message to a particular political party — this is about sending a message to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and sending a message to the world that America will be there for Ukraine for as long as it takes,” the official said, noting the size of the congressional package demonstrates that there is “broad, deep and bipartisan” support for the aid.
Zelenskyy previously addressed Congress via video from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in March. He called on lawmakers to send additional support at that time, too. This time, he will be making his appeal in person.