Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will visit Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden and speak directly to Congress, which is set to vote later this week on increasing funding for Ukraine as it continues its war against Russia.
Zelenskyy’s visit to the U.S. capital will be his first foreign trip since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to invade Ukraine in February.
In a post on Twitter, Zelenskyy indicated that the purpose of his visit to the U.S. is to “strengthen resilience and defense capabilities of Ukraine” through continued funding and “cooperation between Ukraine and the U.S.”
In addition to meeting with Biden, Zelenskyy said he will “have a speech at the Congress and a number of bilateral meetings” in Washington.
The meeting between the two presidents signals that the U.S will be offering further long-term support to Ukraine.
The U.S. has committed nearly $50 billion in humanitarian and defense funding for Ukraine since Russian troops crossed the country’s borders. That amount is the highest given by any country since the conflict began earlier this year. The government funding bill that Congress is set to pass later this week allocates another $45 billion for Kyiv.
In addition to funding, the U.S. has promised to supply Ukraine with a Patriot missile system — weaponry that defends against aircraft, missiles, drones and other airborne attacks. Last week, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned of unspecified “consequences” if the U.S. shares the missiles with Ukraine.
The idea of Zelenskyy visiting Washington, D.C. was first proposed earlier this month during a December 11 phone call between him and Biden. Zelenskyy accepted the invitation by late last week, and Congress was informed of the decision over the weekend.
“The visit will underscore the United States’ steadfast commitment to supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes, including through the provision of economic, humanitarian, and military assistance,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
Russia has struggled to win outright against Ukraine, whose civilians and military have staged and won many conflicts during the war. Meanwhile, efforts to create a peace treaty between Kyiv and Moscow seem to have fizzled out.
Noam Chomsky, institute professor emeritus in the department of linguistics and philosophy at MIT, recently stated that the war could drag on without a treaty, and could potentially include the use of nuclear weaponry if negotiations aren’t picked up again.
“Suppose that negotiations fail or are not even contemplated. What then? The general expert consensus seems to be that there will be a protracted war, with all of its tragic consequences,” Chomsky said in a recent interview with political scientist C.J. Polychroniou.
Without an end in sight, the Russian president will likely escalate matters, Chomsky said.
Chomsky further explained that the U.S. position on the war is a dangerous one:
To put it simply, the U.S. position that the war must continue to severely weaken Russia, blocking negotiations, is based on a quite remarkable assumption: that facing defeat, Putin will pack his bags and slink away to a bitter fate. He will not do what he easily can: strike across Ukraine with impunity using Russia’s conventional weapons, destroying critical infrastructure and Ukrainian government buildings, attacking the supply hubs outside Ukraine, moving on to sophisticated cyberattacks against Ukrainian targets. All of this is easily within Russia’s conventional capacity, as U.S. government and the Ukrainian military command acknowledge — with the possibility of escalation to nuclear war in the not remote background.
“The assumption is worth contemplating,” Chomsky added. “It is too quickly evaded.”
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