Volodymyr Zelensky set to meet Joe Biden in Washington in his second trip since war

Purported meeting comes as US Congress mulls Biden request to assist Ukraine with $24bn military aid

Arpan Rai
Friday 15 September 2023 09:37 BST
Joe Biden walks next to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as he arrives for a visit in Kyiv
Joe Biden walks next to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as he arrives for a visit in Kyiv (AFP via Getty Images)

Volodymyr Zelensky is likely going to meet Joe Biden at the White House and also visit Capitol Hill in a diplomatic trip to Washington next week, suggested several media reports.

The Ukrainian president’s second visit to the US since Russia’s invasion comes at a time Congress is mulling Mr Biden’s request to assist Ukraine with as much as $24bn (£19bn) in military and humanitarian aid.

The visit also comes when Western leaders have defended Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia, that officials under the condition of anonymity have said has been slow to take off. On Friday, Ukraine announced it had liberated a village near Bakhmut in a “lightning operation” after fierce fighting with Russian troops amid its counteroffensive.

Mr Zelensky will meet the US president at the White House next Thursday, an administration official said on the condition of anonymity. Two congressional aides confirmed the war-time president’s trip to the Capitol.

The two leaders could also attend a meeting of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York to be held on 18-19 September.

The White House National Security Council, however, has declined to comment on Mr Zelensky’s plans. That includes the likely meeting between the two presidents at the White House.

This will be Mr Zelensky’s second visit to the US and also be only the second time he has ever visited any country abroad since the invasion in February last year.

He had made a grand visit to the US in December last year and delivered an address to the US House of Representatives.

In a bid to boost Ukraine’s military capabilities, Mr Biden sought a package of $13.1bn in additional military aid and another $8.5bn for humanitarian support, which also includes $2.3bn for financing and to catalyse donors through the World Bank.

However, he is faced with pushback from conservative Republican lawmakers who have been calling for broad federal spending cuts and some of those allied with Donald Trump as they specifically look to stop money to Ukraine.

The Congress is facing increasing strife over providing additional funding for Ukraine as the war is well into its second year and working to pass its annual appropriations bills before the 30 September deadline to keep the US government running.

Mr Zelensky is likely slated to deliver a speech to the UNGA and also reportedly looking to hold meetings with other visiting world leaders.

This has been claimed by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said he planned to meet Mr Zelensky on the sidelines of the UN meetings.

Additionally, the US is looking to impose new sanctions on more than 150 individuals and entities related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The US was continuing our relentless work to target Russia’s military supply chains and deprive (Russian president Vladimir) Putin of the equipment, technology, and services he needs to wage his barbaric war on Ukraine,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said.

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