By Enyichukwu Enemanna
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is making a dramatic visit to Washington Wednesday — his first known trip outside Ukraine since the Russian invasion began in February.
He’s meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House and will address Congress as lawmakers vote on $45 billion more in emergency aid, and Biden has announced the US will send Ukraine a Patriot anti-missile battery to defend against devastating Russian attacks.
In a virtual address to US lawmakers back in March, Zelenskyy emotionally pleaded for more aggressive measures to help fight the war.
Invoking key American tragedies, including Pearl Harbor and the Sept. 11 attacks, Zelenskyy told members at the time, “Just remember it … Our country experiences the same every day right now.”
Zelenskyy and Biden are scheduled to hold a joint news conference in the White House East Room before Zelenskyy travels to Capitol Hill to address lawmakers.
The high-security trip to Washington comes as Biden announced another $2 billion package in security assistance for Ukraine, which includes a Patriot missile defense system Zelenskyy had been requesting.
The visit also comes as Congress weighs $45 billion in funding for Ukraine, which has met resistance from some House Republicans. Asked how much of the visit is about Biden sending a message them, the White House said it’s not about politics, despite the timing.
“This isn’t about sending a message to a particular political party,” said a senior administration official. “This is about sending a message to Putin and sending a message to the world that America will be there for Ukraine for as long as it takes.”