On Wednesday, December 21, 2022, President Biden will welcome President Zelenskyy at the White House. During his first out-of-country travel since the war in Ukraine started on February 24, 2022, Zelenskyy will have an opportunity in Washington DC to engage with the President, his cabinet members, and the press. After the entire program at the White House, he will go up to Capitol Hill to address the members of Congress.
“We are ending a very special session of the 117th Congress with legislation that makes progress for the American people as well as support for our Democracy,” Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues on Tuesday afternoon. “Please be present for a very special focus on Democracy Wednesday night.”
According to a senior administration the prospect of the DC visit was first discussed on December 11, 2022, in a phone call between President Biden and Zelenskyy. The official told the Pavlovic Today that last Wednesday, December 14, the official invitation went out to Zelenskyy and, in doing so,”indicated that we wanted to host him for a program here at 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.”
On Sunday, December 18, President Zelenskyy confirmed that his visit to Washington DC would take place on the 300th day since Russia attacked Ukraine.
At the White House meeting President Biden and Zelenskyy will have an opportunity for an in-depth strategic discussions. The White House maintains that Putin does not intend to end the war and Biden will announce a new security package of 2 billion dollars to Ukraine for 2023. Along with Congress, the White House anticipates to be able to pass a significant, bipartisan package with more than $40 billion to Ukraine.
The timing of Zelenskyy’s visit to Washington DC, according to a senior administration official, was “his decision.” Senior administration official revealed that in Zelenskyy’s discussion with President Biden, the two agreed that having the opportunity to sit down together was an “important injection of momentum.” Zelenskyy, in the words of a senior administration official, also wanted to express gratitude for the “bipartisan support” he so far received from the US.
“As the year draws to a close, as we head deeper into winter, as we continue to provide Ukraine the capabilities and needs on the battlefield as we continue to surge diplomatic support and solidarity to Ukraine, this moment felt like a good opportunity for them to be able to have this engagement in personal face to face engagement, and for President Zelenskyy to have this opportunity to address the American people,” said the official.
In terms of the timing of the visit ahead of the new Congress, senior administration officials expressed confidence that “despite some rumors,” support for Ukraine in the US will “remain bipartisan.”
Zelenskyy’s visit to the White House and the US Capitol “is about sending a message to Putin and the world that America will be for Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
The war’s end is not on the horizon, and the senior administration official said that Biden wouldn’t pressure Zelenskyy to sit down at the negotiating table with Putin. Biden’s goal is to send a message of solidarity, support, and alignment and place Ukraine in the best possible position to fight the war against Russia.
At the time this news was being written, due to security requirements a senior administration official declined to say more about the exact timetable for Zelenskyy’s Wednesday in Washington DC. The Pavlovic Today will provide new details as we learn more in the coming hours.