Ukraine’s Zelenskiy goes to Washington seeking ‘weapons, weapons and more weapons’

  • A US package of about $2 billion will be announced
  • Ukraine “needs weapons, weapons and more weapons”
  • A Patriot missile battery is part of the new aid
  • Zelensky presented the medals to the besieged Bakhmut, his office said

KYIV/WASHINGTON, Dec 21 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with President Joe Biden on Wednesday to address Congress and seek “arms, weapons and other weapons” in his first foreign trip since Russia invaded Ukraine 300 days ago. He was going to Washington. before.

Zelensky said the visit was aimed at strengthening Ukraine’s “stability and defense capabilities” in the wake of repeated attacks on Ukraine’s energy and water supplies in the dead of winter.

Mykhailo Podoliak, political adviser to the President, said that this visit shows a high level of trust between the two countries and offered an opportunity to explain what kind of weapons Kyiv needs.

“This finally put an end to the Russian side’s attempts to prove that our bilateral relations are cooling down,” Podolyak told Reuters.

“Of course, it’s not even close, the United States supports Ukraine without a doubt.

Biden will announce nearly $2 billion in military aid to Ukraine, including a Patriot missile battery to defend against Russian missile barrages, a senior U.S. official said.

“…Weapons, weapons and more weapons. It is important to explain personally why we need certain types of weapons,” said Podolyak. In particular, armored personnel carriers, the latest missile defense systems and long-range missiles,” he said.

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Zelensky’s visit is expected to last several hours.

He will meet with Biden at the White House at 14:30 (1930 GMT), attend a joint news conference with the US president, and then travel to Capitol Hill to address a joint session of the US Senate and House of Representatives. .

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 with the goal of capturing Kiev within days, a goal that quickly failed. Russian President Vladimir Putin launched what he called Russia’s “special military operation” to “denazify” Ukraine at a time when Moscow took advantage of the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 to confront the West by destroying Russia.

Since then, thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed, millions have been forced from their homes, and entire cities have been reduced to rubble.

Speaking at a year-end meeting of top defense chiefs on Wednesday, Putin said Russian troops are fighting like heroes, equipped with modern weapons, spared no expense and will meet all of Moscow’s goals.

Biden will meet face-to-face with a man he has been in regular contact with for the past 10 months, but only since the war began. He will not use the talks to push Zelensky to the negotiating table with Putin, the US official said.

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The Kremlin said on Wednesday that there is no possibility of peace talks with Kyiv. In a conversation with reporters, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the West’s supply of weapons to Ukraine would lead to a “deepening” of the conflict.

The Biden administration provided nearly $20 billion in military aid to Ukraine, including artillery munitions, munitions for NASAMS air defense systems, and high-mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS).

Zelensky has repeatedly called on the West to provide more weapons.

‘FRESS BAKHMUT’

On Tuesday, he made a surprise trip to the eastern town of Bakhmut, where his office stressed the importance of defending against Russia’s stammering but persistent efforts to take it over.

Zelensky called it a visit to the “Bakhmut fortress” in the Donetsk province of Russia in a video address at night. Most countries reject Russia’s claims of illegal occupation.

A video released by his office showed Zelensky, dressed in military khaki, presenting medals to soldiers at the collapsed industrial complex to applause.

And Putin awarded medals to the Russian-appointed leaders of the four regions of Ukraine, which Russia claims to have annexed, in the comfort of the Kremlin.

In a video published on the Ukrinform TV channel, which is affiliated to the state news agency of Ukraine, military personnel are seen handing over a signed Ukrainian flag to Bakhmut Zelenskyi.

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“We will pass it on to Congress and the President of the United States,” Zelensky said in the video. “We are grateful for the support. But it is not enough,” he added.

Putin acknowledged on Tuesday that there were problems for Russian forces in parts of Ukraine, including what Russia calls the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in the east.

Ukraine’s Luhansk regional military administration said Russian mining operations had weakened Ukrainian forces in the region.

“The most difficult direction of the entire front is Bakhmut,” said the telegram. “The Russians aimed at least to win there,” he said.

The US Senate has approved a government-sponsored bill that includes $44.9 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine and its NATO allies. This money would be used for military training, equipment, logistics and intelligence work, as well as replenishment of American equipment sent to Ukraine.

The World Bank said on Tuesday it had approved an additional financing package for Ukraine totaling $610 million to address emergency relief and recovery needs.

Information from Reuters agencies; Written by Grant McCool, Himani Sarkar and Nick McPhee; Edited by Cynthia Osterman, Robert Birsel, and Tomasz Janowski

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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