UPDATED 6:03 PM PT – Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived at the White House on Wednesday. He was greeted warmly by United States President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden.
Upon his arrival, both the American and the Ukrainian flag flew outside the White House.
The secret trip was planned over the past week by U.S. and Ukrainian officials with heavy risks.
Zelensky arrived in Poland by train and then flew to Washington D.C. on an American military aircraft. He landed in Joint Base Andrews, just outside the nation’s capital.
This marks the first time the Ukrainian leader has left the country since the Ukraine-Russia war began in February.
Biden discussed the potentialities of the Ukrainian President’s visit to the United States over a telephone call on December 11th.
According to an administrative official, a formal invitation was sent following the call which Zelensky accepted with pleasure. The trip was finally confirmed on Sunday after a thorough implementation of the security parameters.
John Kirby, the Strategic Communications Coordinator at the National Security Council, made a statement about the trip.
“We are working in lockstep with him [Zelinsky] and his staff to make sure we can make this trip safely, both coming to the United States and coming back,” Kirby said. “We will continue to support his travel requirements as best we can.”
U.S. President Joe Biden and Zelensky met at the White House for a bilateral meeting with top representatives from both countries. The meeting was followed by a press conference.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urged all lawmakers to attend the Chamber. She confirmed that the speech will be “etched into history as well as part of your legacy.” However, due to security precautions, guests will not be permitted to attend the address.
Zelensky had earlier tweeted on Wednesday that the meeting’s main objective will be to improve Ukraine’s “resilience and defense capabilities.” He stressed that it is more likely to be a bilateral effort between Ukraine and the U.S.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced a $1.85 billion package for Ukraine. The package will also includes the Patriot missile system that Russia has warned the U.S. from transferring to Ukraine.
Before the onset of the meeting, President Biden told Zelensky that it was good to have him back under the current scenario.
“It’s an honor to be by your side in the united defense against what is a brutal, brutal war that is being waged by Putin,” Biden said. “The Ukrainian people continue to inspire the world, I mean that sincerely-not just inspire us, but inspire the world with their courage.”
During the opening remarks of the meeting between the two leaders, Biden denounced the Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying he was “escalating his assault on civilians” and was trying to “use winter as a weapon.”
Zelensky offered Biden a military cross medal from a Ukrainian soldier serving on the front lines. He passed the gift to a nearby U.S. official saying, “give it to a very brave president.”
Biden accepted the honor with pride saying that it is “undeserved but much appreciated.” He also asked the Ukrainian if it would be possible to contact said soldier.
Biden confirmed at a concluding remark that Democrats and Republicans will ensure that Ukraine gets the financial, humanitarian, and security backing it needs to continue fighting and will “support Ukraine in pursuing a just peace.”