January 31, 2023

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Along with Zelensky, Biden urges solidarity over Ukraine to continue in 2023

  • The United States announces a new $1.85 billion military aid package for Kiev
  • Zelensky’s first trip abroad since the start of the Russian invasion
  • The US Patriot air defense battery is part of the new assistance
  • Putin supports increasing the size of the Russian army by 30%

WASHINGTON/Kyiv, Dec. 21 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden stood with Volodymyr Zelensky at the White House on Wednesday during the wartime Ukrainian leader’s first visit to urge Americans and the world to continue supporting Kyiv in 2023, when congressional approval for aid . harder.

The United States has sent about $50 billion in aid to Kyiv as Europe’s largest territorial conflict since World War Two continues, killing tens of thousands of people, driving millions from their homes and turning cities into rubble.

But some Republicans, who will take control of the House of Representatives on Jan. 3, have expressed concerns about the price, and European countries have suffered because of energy problems and the damage to the global economy.

“As we head into the new year, it’s important for the American people and the world to hear directly from you, Mr. President, about the fight for Ukraine and the need to continue standing together through 2023,” Biden said at a news conference.

He added that there was no union between NATO or the European Union more than Ukraine.

“The United States will stand up for our common values, the values ​​of freedom,” said Zelensky, dressed in his green pants and green jacket.

“I believe that despite any changes in the composition of Congress, bicameral and bipartisan support will be maintained.”

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Zelensky, who will seek more support during the trip, is scheduled to address a joint session of the US Senate and House of Representatives and meet Democratic and Republican leaders there.

Some hardline Republicans have urged an end to aid to Ukraine, and instead demanded a review of how previously earmarked money was spent.

Zelensky has repeatedly called on the West to provide more advanced weaponry, from modern battle tanks to missile defense systems, but Western allies have been careful and careful to minimize any risk of sparking a broader conflict with Russia.

Zelensky had earlier presented Biden with a medal presented by the captain of the HIMARS missile unit and expressed his gratitude for the US president’s role in helping Ukraine and mobilizing support.

National Rocket

Some in Moscow had expected the invasion of Ukraine to bring a quick victory, but instead it is a 300-day mark.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced that the US would provide another $1.85 billion in military aid to Ukraine, including a Patriot air defense system to help it fend off Russian missile barrages.

Ukraine has been hit by repeated Russian missile and drone strikes targeting its energy infrastructure, leaving millions of people without electricity or running water in a bitterly cold winter.

The Patriot missile is one of the most advanced US air defense systems, providing protection against attacking aircraft as well as ballistic and cruise missiles.

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Zelensky’s political advisor, Mykhailo Podolyak, said the visit would allow Ukraine to explain the need for more advanced weapons.

“…weapons, weapons and more weapons,” he told Reuters in written comments about the trip’s goals. “In particular, armored vehicles, the latest missile defense systems and long-range missiles.”

Zelensky made sure to stay close to his people by making daring trips to the battlefronts and addressing the nation every night. Countless calls to world leaders and video addresses to parliaments and international institutions.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Washington sees no sign of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s willingness to engage in peacemaking.

The Kremlin said on Wednesday it saw no chance of peace talks with Kyiv. Speaking to reporters, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said continued Western arms supplies to Ukraine would “deepen” the conflict.

Russia says it is launching a “special military operation” in Ukraine to rid it of nationalists and protect Russian-speaking communities. Ukraine and the West describe the Kremlin’s actions as an unjustified war of aggression.

Fix problems, Putin tells the military

Putin was defiant on Wednesday at a year-end meeting of top defense chiefs, saying Russian forces are fighting like heroes in Ukraine, will be equipped with modern weapons and will achieve all of Moscow’s goals.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 with the goal of capturing the capital, Kyiv, within days, a goal that quickly turned out to be out of reach.

Moscow then focused on advancing along the Eastern and Southern Fronts but had suffered a string of battlefield defeats since the summer.

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Putin said that there are no financial restrictions on what the government will provide in terms of equipment and devices, but that the military should learn from them and fix the problems it encountered in Ukraine.

He has expressed support for his defense minister’s plan to increase the size of the armed forces by more than 30%, to 1.5 million fighters.

Putin also said that he still considers Ukrainians a “brotherly” people.

He blamed the war on “third countries (seeking) the disintegration of the Russian world,” and revisited a familiar theme. The West has dismissed this as nonsense, describing Russia’s actions in Ukraine as an imperial-style land grab.

Reporting by Reuters offices. Written by Nick McPhee, Mark Heinrichs, and Kostas Pettas; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, Alex Richardson, and Cynthia Osterman

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.