Volodymyr Zelensky is to come to Washington on Wednesday in his first in-person visit since the beginning of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, a senior US administration official confirmed earlier.
Joe Biden and the Ukrainian President were set to discuss a range of topics, including “battlefield strategy, energy, and sanctions.”
Volodymyr Zelensky has been likened to yet another “beggar asking for a handout” by Americans, as a senior US administration official confirmed that the Ukrainian President was to take a break from the videoconferencing he has indulged in for the past months and arrive in Washington.
Since Russia began its special military operation in Ukraine, Zelensky has been an avid Zoom user, his image splashed across the screen during a plethora of meetings.
Whether he was addressing the US Congress, the European Parliament, or Oxford University, the Ukrainian leader invariably pleaded for more funds and more weapons.
During this in-person meeting, US President Joe Biden will have an extended bilateral meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the White House. Biden is also to announce a hefty new $2 bln package of aid for Ukraine, it was confirmed. In response, US media readers lambasted the “virtual blank-check to Ukraine” policy advocated by the current US administration.
“He figures it’s his last chance to score a extra $100 billion before Congress changes hands. You never know,” wrote one reader, amid reports that the Ukrainian president intended to address a joint session of Congress.
Weighing in on the reasons prompting Volodymyr Zelensky to venture out and put in a physical appearance, another American reader commented:
“Why shouldn’t he come to the US? He needs to pick up the cash coming to him from the Omnibus Bill. Some jobs a man has to do on his own.”
Reference here was made to the $1.7 trillion year-long federal government funding bill that Senate leaders unveiled on Tuesday morning. First, the Senate is expected to vote on the deal this week, after which it will be sent to the House of Representatives for approval before government funding runs out on December 23.
Zelensky – a former comedian and television personality – was also slammed by US readers for angling for more giveaways amid the rising cost of living across the US.
“The Times person of the year traveling all the way to another continent to ask for more US tax payer money during a recession and record high inflation,” commented another reader.
Some sarcastically commented that Ukraine’s leader was likely “coming to firm up his US. citizenship,” adding
“Or perhaps to look over real estate in Beverly Hills or Martha’s Vineyard. Or both. With all the money we’ve sent him he can afford the best.”
“Give us the Benjamins, and WE will finish the job! OK, I’d love to chat some more, but I can’t stay. Gotta go check on all my offshore companies and other properties. Come visit me in the Caymans, and we can hang out! Bye!” quipped another US reader, in a slang reference to American hundred-dollar bills.
The White House formally extended an invitation to Zelensky last week to visit Washington, a US official informed the media, adding that Biden and Zelensky will hold a joint press conference.
“We wanted to host him [Zelensky] for a program here at the White House that would involve an extended sit down with President Biden, a meeting with key members of President Biden’s national security team and cabinet, an opportunity to address the press, and then an opportunity to go up to Capitol Hill to do a joint session of Congress,” the US official said.
The President has been very clear that we are going to lean forward and be robust in our support for Ukraine on the military, economic, energy and humanitarian fronts. But we are not seeking to engage in a direct war with Russia, and nothing about that will change tomorrow,” the senior official told reporters.
It was underscored that the Biden administration remained committed to keeping US troops out of Ukraine, and Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Washington was meant to “send a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
It was added that the package in additional security assistance for Ukraine will include a Patriot missile battery.
“President Biden will announce a significant new package of nearly $2 billion of security assistance for Ukraine. It will contain a very important new capability, a Patriot missile battery, which will be a critical asset… We will train Ukrainian forces on how to operate the Patriot missile battery in a third country,” the US official said.
It had been reported earlier that the Biden administration was finalizing plans to provide Ukraine with Patriot air defense systems amid a series of Russian precision strikes at the country’s infrastructure. Carried out since October, the strikes have been in retaliation for Ukrainian terrorist attacks, including the deadly blast at the Crimean Bridge, organized by Kiev.
The Russian embassy in the US said in a statement that the possible delivery of MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile systems to Ukraine would be another provocative step by the Biden administration and may lead to “unpredictable consequences.” Since the start of Russia’s operation in Ukraine, Washington and its western allies have been maintaining a steady supply of weapons for the Kiev regime.
Despite Moscow warning that the funneling of military aid to Kiev only served to prolong the conflict, and regardless of their own reportedly diminishing stockpiles, Washington and its NATO allies have shown no sign of rethinking their stance.
Russia has denounced the flow of weapons to Ukraine from the collective West and warned that any cargo containing weapons bound for Ukraine is a legitimate target.