United States President Joe Biden has welcomed his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to the White House, while Washington confirmed it will transfer the Patriot air defence missile system to Ukraine as part of a $1.85bn military aid package.
Zelenskyy’s arrival in Washington, DC on Wednesday marked the president’s first known trip outside of Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in February.
list of 3 items
end of list
In brief remarks in the Oval Office, Zelenskyy expressed gratitude to the US government and public. “Thank you first of all,” he told the US president. “It’s a great honour to be here.”
At a news conference later on Wednesday, Biden said the US will train Ukrainian forces on using the Patriot battery, which will “take time”, but he stressed that the system will be a “critical asset for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression”.
Biden added that he felt that Russian President Vladimir Putin has no intention of “stopping this cruel war”. The US president said both he and Zelensyy want the conflict to end under the vision of a “free, independent, prosperous and secure Ukraine”.
“The United States is committed to ensuring that the brave Ukrainian people can continue to defend their country against Russian aggression as long as it takes,” Biden said.
For his part, Zelenskyy hailed US aid to Ukraine, including the Patriot battery, saying that the air defence system will help thwart the “terrorist country” — referring to Russia — from bombing Ukrainian infrastructure.
“I know that… the United States will help us to defend our values and independence, and regardless of changes in the Congress, I believe that there will be bipartisan and bicameral support,” he said.
Zelenskyy added that he is “sure” that the US and Ukraine will “win” together against “tyranny”.
The Republican Party, whose far-right wing has expressed scepticism over US aid to Ukraine, is set to take control of the House of Representatives in the incoming Congress early next year. But bipartisan support for Kyiv in Washington remains strong.