Ukrainian Zelensky will make his first trip abroad since the invasion

In his first known trip abroad since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to arrive in Washington on Wednesday to meet with President Biden and address a joint session of Congress.

US officials kept the details of his visit secret over security fears. Despite the heavy shroud placed over Zelensky’s plans, it was widely reported that he would travel to Washington to visit Capitol Hill and appear at the White House.

Zelensky’s visit, his second to the United States as president, comes as lawmakers prepare to vote on a $1.7 trillion year-end funding bill that includes nearly $45 billion dollars in emergency economic and security assistance to Ukraine, $8 billion. more than Biden had asked Congress last month.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) stressed that lawmakers should make an effort to appear in person at Wednesday’s session.

“We are ending a very special session of the 117th Congress with legislation that makes progress for the American people as well as support for our democracy,” Pelosi wrote to her colleagues in a letter Tuesday. “Please be present for a very special focus on democracy on Wednesday night.”

Zelensky will appear before House Republicans, some of whom have expressed interest in restricting aid to Ukraine when they take over the lower house in January. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) said his party would not “write a blank check to Ukraine,” raising concerns about Washington’s ability to help Kyiv defend se from Russia in the coming months.

This trip would mark the first time Zelensky has left Ukraine since the war began. 24. His determination to remain in Kyiv despite being attacked – and as his Russian enemies claimed he had fled – and his nightly video addresses brought relief to his people and encouraged Ukrainian defenders of their land. He repeatedly refuted Russian propaganda by appearing in parts of Ukraine with a video camera in tow.

The visit also comes as Ukraine’s requests for long-range Patriot anti-aircraft and surface-to-air missiles are gaining steam, with the announcement of a US decision to supply the sophisticated weaponry expected as early as this week. Zelensky may believe his presence could seal the deal.

Zelensky’s appearances on the front lines, in metro stations where Ukrainians huddled in fear and even in the most war-torn cities like Bucha, the site of alleged massive atrocities against Ukrainian civilians by troops Russians, served as a consummate morale booster for a population that believes it is fighting for its identity.

His risky departure from the country – with an equally dangerous return – represents a surprising departure from that campaign. Zelensky may have felt it necessary to make a stronger personal appeal for additional US arms and other aid at a time when a soon-to-be Republican-dominated House has floated ideas to limit that assistance.

Zelensky’s visit was first reported by Punchbowl News.

His determination to speak up for Ukraine has earned him international accolades, including Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, who said he embodied the “spirit” of a country that broke away from the former Soviet Union and now he is besieged by a Russian leader who believes he should never have been allowed to be separated.

U.S. officials did not provide details on how Zelensky was traveling. Numerous high-level delegations, including the prime ministers of neighboring European countries, Pelosi and US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, have ventured into Ukraine by train, traveling from Poland to Kyiv in relative safety.

But security is a changing condition, and in recent weeks the Russian military has stepped up airstrikes against numerous civilian targets in Ukraine, including power grids, plunging much of the country’s population into darkness and cold. as winter engulfs the region.

From the start of the war, Zelensky said he was the no. 1 assassination target, and that seemed possible as Kremlin troops tried – and ultimately failed – to conquer Kyiv.

Earlier Tuesday, in another display of his flair for combat zone drama, Zelensky appeared in Bakhmut, an eastern city under one of the heaviest Russian attacks in recent days. Russian forces were trying to encircle the city, 380 miles east of Kyiv, with their broader goal of seizing the entire Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.

Zelensky’s appearance was seen as another effort to boost morale. For the Russians, capturing Bakhmut would open a route for Russian forces to continue on to towns in the eastern region that remain in Ukrainian hands. Mercenaries from the Wagner Group, a shadowy paramilitary organization led by a Russian oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, are said to be leading the Russian offensive in Bakhmut.

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