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WASHINGTON — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is because of meet President Joe Biden in Washington the place he’s anticipated to reach on December 21 on his first journey overseas because the begin of Russia’s invasion as Congress prepares to vote on a sweeping spending invoice that features a provision to allocate greater than $40 billion in further navy help to Ukraine.

Stay Briefing: Russia’s Invasion Of Ukraine

RFE/RL’s Stay Briefing offers you all the newest developments on Russia’s ongoing invasion, Kyiv’s counteroffensive, Western navy help, world response, and the plight of civilians. For all of RFE/RL’s protection of the conflict, click on right here.

“Throughout the go to, President Biden will announce a big new bundle of safety help to assist Ukraine defend itself towards Russian aggression,” the White Home stated in a press release, including that Zelenskiy “will tackle a joint session of Congress, demonstrating the robust, bipartisan assist for Ukraine.”

Zelenskiy’s adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, informed Reuters that the go to is “extraordinarily important” and that it invalidates Moscow’s makes an attempt to drive a wedge between Washington and Kyiv by alleging bilateral relations have gotten cooler.

“Firstly, each the go to itself and the extent of deliberate conferences unequivocally testify to the excessive diploma of belief between the nations. Secondly, this lastly places an finish to the makes an attempt by the Russian aspect…to show an allegedly rising cooling in our bilateral relations,” Podolyak stated in written feedback.

“This, after all, will not be even shut,” Podolyak added. “America unequivocally helps Ukraine.”

A senior U.S. administration official stated in a name with reporters on December 20 that, throughout Zelenskiy’s go to, the Biden administration will announce $1.8 billion in already accredited navy help to Ukraine that may, for the primary time, embrace a Patriot missile battery and precision guided bombs for his or her fighter jets.

Earlier than addressing Congress, Zelenskiy is anticipated to satisfy one-on-one with Biden on the White Home and maintain talks with leaders of the Democratic and Republican events.

“Within the assembly tomorrow, President Biden can have the chance with President Zelenskiy to have an in-depth strategic dialogue, on the way in which forward on the battlefield, on the capabilities and coaching the U.S. and our allies proceed to offer to Ukraine,” the official stated.

The journey “is one thing we have needed to do for a while,” he added.

Zelenskiy’s go to comes greater than 300 days after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine, triggering the most important conflict on European soil because the finish of World Conflict II. It additionally coincides with Congress’s consideration of a $1.7 trillion spending bundle that features large help to Ukraine.

The omnibus invoice, as it’s identified, would fund the U.S. authorities by means of September and is anticipated to move the Home and Senate, although there may be discontent amongst some Republicans, who management half of the 100 Senate seats.

Nonetheless, the senior official stated the Biden administration is assured that assist will stay bipartisan.

“So, this is not about sending a message to a specific political social gathering. That is about sending a message to Putin and sending a message to the world that America can be there for Ukraine for so long as it takes,” the official stated.

Zelenskiy’s go to “doesn’t damage to get the omnibus invoice over the objective line 100%,” Andrij Dobriansky, director of communications for the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), an influential diaspora group, informed RFE/RL.

Ukraine is extremely depending on U.S. navy help to defend itself. The failure to move the invoice may result in a U.S. authorities shutdown early subsequent yr when Republicans take management of the Home and set off a hold-up of further help to Ukraine at a time when many anticipate Russia to launch a brand new offensive.

“For Ukraine funding proper now, its all concerning the omnibus,” Dobriansky stated.

Putin earlier this week made his first journey to Minsk in additional than three years to see Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka amid hypothesis the Russian chief might attempt to strain Belarus to hitch the combat towards Ukraine.

Zelenskiy may be coming to the US now to “make a giant present” following Putin’s go to to Belarus, Dobriansky stated.

“Zelenskiy can say, ‘I can present up on the White Home anytime I need.’ It displays on what entry Zelenskiy has and what entry Putin has,” he stated.

The go to could be Zelenskiy’s second to the White Home since taking workplace greater than 3 1/2 years in the past.

Two sources who confirmed plans for Zelenskiy’s journey to the AP cautioned that it may nonetheless be referred to as off on the final minute attributable to safety issues.

‘A Very Good Factor’

U.S. officers described particulars of the miltary help to Ukraine on situation of anonymity as a result of it has not but been introduced, the AP reported. The bundle can have about $1 billion in weapons from Pentagon shares and one other $800 million in funding by means of the Ukraine Safety Help Initiative, which funds weapons, ammunition, coaching, and different help, officers informed the AP.

Ukraine has additionally been asking for Abrams tanks, ATACMS long-range guided missiles, and F-16s, however the Biden administration has thus far refused to offer the inexperienced mild on these highly effective weapons programs, and there was no indication it might approve them throughout Zelenskiy’s go to.

John Herbst, the previous U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2003-06, informed RFE/RL that the administration’s approval of any a kind of weapon programs would justify Zelenskiy taking the danger of touring forwards and backwards to the US amid Russian strikes.

Nonetheless, he stated that if Zelenskiy’s tackle to Congress “does, in truth, stymie or cut back the populist Republican opposition to help to Ukraine, that might clearly be an excellent factor.”

The help for Ukraine included within the omnibus spending bundle, which lawmakers are underneath strain to move by midnight on December 23, could be greater than $40 billion and would quantity to the most important American infusion of help but.

It’s a number of billion {dollars} greater than Biden requested. A wing of the Republican Social gathering in Congress has come out towards large-scale help to Ukraine.

Republican Home Takeover

Internet hosting Zelenskiy can be one of many ultimate acts for Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Democrat-California), who can be changed by a Republican when the brand new Home session opens early in January. Democrats misplaced management of the Home within the November election however retained the Senate.

Pelosi hinted in a letter to colleagues on December 20 {that a} distinguished customer was anticipated on the Capitol.

“We’re ending a really particular session of the 117th Congress with laws that makes progress for the American individuals in addition to assist for our democracy,” Pelosi wrote within the letter, which was quoted by the AP. “Please be current for a really particular concentrate on democracy Wednesday night time.”

Zelenskiy’s go to places Pelosi’s anticipated successor, Consultant Kevin McCarthy (Republican-California), on the spot after he stated in an interview previous to the November elections that People are “not going to put in writing a clean verify to Ukraine.”

The remark raised concern amongst members of Congress who’ve vowed to proceed supporting Ukraine for so long as it takes to defeat Russia.

As Home speaker, McCarthy would have extensive latitude to nominate Ukraine-skeptic lawmakers because the chairs of the budgetary and the international affairs committees, in addition to the facility to determine which payments come up for a vote.

Zelenskiy’s go to to Washington would observe on the heels of his journey to the town of Bakhmut in Ukraine’s contested Donetsk area on December 20 to point out assist for the “braveness, resilience, and energy” of Ukrainian troops.

Although Russia’s invasion has misplaced momentum, if it have been profitable in capturing Bakhmut, Russian forces would sever Ukraine’s provide strains and open a route for them to press towards key Ukrainian cities within the Donetsk area.

‘Not In An Straightforward Scenario’

In a video launched by his workplace, Zelenskiy is seen receiving a Ukrainian flag from the troops in Bakhmut, and he alludes to delivering it to U.S. leaders.

“The fellows handed over our lovely Ukrainian flag with their signatures for us to move on,” Zelenskiy stated within the video. “We aren’t in a simple state of affairs. The enemy is growing its military. Our persons are braver and want extra highly effective weapons. We’ll move it on from the boys to the Congress, to the president of the US. We’re grateful for his or her assist, however it’s not sufficient. It’s a trace — it’s not sufficient.”

Zelenskiy has addressed the U.S. Congress as soon as earlier than — on March 16 in a reside video tackle by which he referred to as on lawmakers to move additional sanctions and assist a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, requested if Moscow hoped that one thing optimistic may come from Zelenskiy’s journey, stated, “No.”

“The provision of weapons continues and the vary of equipped weapons is increasing. All of this, after all, results in an aggravation of the battle. This doesn’t bode effectively for Ukraine,” Peskov stated.

With reporting by AP, CNN, Reuters, and AFP

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