WASHINGTON — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will meet with President Joe Biden at the White House Wednesday and then deliver an address to a joint session of Congress in the evening, his first known wartime trip outside Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion last February.
Biden is scheduled to welcome Zelenskyy to the White House at 2 p.m. The two leaders will hold a bilateral meeting and then a joint press conference later in the afternoon.
“I hope you’re having a good flight, Volodymyr. I’m thrilled to have you here. Much to discuss,” Biden tweeted early Wednesday morning.
Zelenskyy’s visit comes as the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on an omnibus spending bill that includes approximately $45 billion of both military and economic aid to Ukraine in the coming year, billions more than Biden initially requested in November.
The aid is primarily military, with more than $20 million to supply weapons and equipment to Ukraine’s armed forces, who are waging a bitter fight in freezing temperatures to recapture territories occupied by Russian troops.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian civilians are under near constant bombardment by Russian missiles and drones, which have destroyed vast swaths of the country’s electrical grid and water infrastructure.
If the Senate approves the yearlong government funding bill, it would go to the House, where Democratic leadership wants to pass it and send it to Biden’s desk before they leave for the holiday recess on Thursday.
The Biden administration and Ukraine’s many supporters in Congress also hope that Zelenskyy’s visit will help firm up congressional support for the massive aid package.
After nearly a year of war, some Republicans have begun to openly question whether the U.S. should keep funding the Ukrainian military.
This is a developing story, please check back for updates.