A full week to plead the cause of his country. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in the United States on Monday to attend the UN General embly and then meet his American counterpart Joe Biden in Washington. “Olena Zelenska and I have arrived in the United States,” the Ukrainian president announced on X (formerly Twitter), referring to his wife, for meetings at the UN in New York before going to Washington.
The Ukrainian president is expected in New York to participate in the United Nations General embly and meet world leaders. Zelensky will then be received at the White House on Thursday for further discussions on supporting kyiv against the Russian invasion. He will also meet Lula, with whom relations are strained, particularly after their missed meeting at the G7 summit in May.
Olena @ZelenskaUA and I arrived in the United States for the high-level week of the UN General embly and a visit to Washington, DC
I will attend the General embly, SDG Summit, and Security Council meetings at the UN, as well as a number of important bilateral talks.…
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) September 18, 2023
This visit by Zelensky comes as Ukraine seeks to progress in its counter-offensive against Russian forces. “It comes at a critical time, when Russia is desperate for help from countries like North Korea to wage its brutal war in Ukraine,” Jake Sullivan, US national security advisor, said on Friday.
He also said he expected the United States and its allies to announce new military aid to Ukraine “sometime next week.” The Ukraine contact group, which is responsible for coordinating aid to kyiv, is due to meet in Ramstein, Germany, next week.
New aid debated in Congress
President Zelensky’s visit to Washington also comes at a time when the US Congress is debating a new package of $24 billion in military aid for kyiv. Volodymyr Zelensky should also go to the Capitol to meet the Republican and Democratic leadership, Mr. Sullivan stressed.
Elected officials have been negotiating this new aid for several weeks and the negotiations are particularly difficult in the House of Representatives, in the hands of the Republicans, where certain conservative parliamentarians refuse to release more funds. This position makes the Republican leaders in the Senate jump, who mobilized with the Democrats over the last year to release more than 110 billion in aid (military, economic, humanitarian, etc.) to Kiev in Congress.
The White House has said it expects that ultimately, both parties in Congress will continue to support Ukraine. “Frankly, both Republicans and Democrats recognize that the United States cannot, in its own interest, let alone its moral obligations, abandon Ukraine at this critical time,” Sullivan noted.
Volodymyr Zelensky had already made a surprise visit to Washington in December 2022. After meeting with President Biden at the White House, the leader told Congress that Ukraine would “never surrender.” Joe Biden went to kyiv a few months later – a historic trip – the first by an American president to a territory at war not controlled by the United States.
The United States leads an international coalition in support of Ukraine, and has provided more than $43 billion in military aid to kyiv since the conflict began in February 2022.