Volodymyr Zelenskyy to visit US in first trip abroad since Russia’s invasion: reports

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  • The reported visit would be the first time Ukraine’s president has left the country since Russia invaded 10 months ago.
  • US Speaker Nancy Pelosi has asked US Congress members to attend a meeting but has not explained why.
  • The United States has provided Ukraine with billions of dollars since the war began.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky plans to visit Washington on Wednesday for a possible meeting with Joe Biden and an address to Congress, US media reported — his first trip abroad since Russia invaded in February.
The potential White House meeting could feature an expected announcement from Mr Biden of a new arms package for Kyiv including Patriot missiles, according to the reports.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meanwhile told members of Congress in a letter Tuesday that they should be in attendance the following night.

“Please be present for a very special focus on democracy Wednesday night,” she wrote, without explanation.

The potential meeting between Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Joe Biden could feature an expected announcement from the US president of a new arms package for Kyiv including Patriot missiles. Source: AAP, AP / Evan Vucci

Mr Zelenskyy, who has led without rest for , has spoken frequently to leaders and supporters around the world, .

His planned trip acknowledges that the United States has been the most important supporter of the war effort, already providing an estimated US$50 billion ($75 billion) in total aid, including some US$20 billion ($30 billion) in security assistance.
On Tuesday, Mr Zelenskyy visited , where he described the war-battered city as a frontline “fortress”.
That unannounced trip came as the Kremlin announced that Vladimir Putin would meet senior military officials Wednesday to weigh up Russia’s full-scale assault on Ukraine so far and set goals for next year after a series of battlefield defeats.
“Here in Donbas, you’re protecting all of Ukraine … They will do everything they’ve done here in other towns of our country, because they don’t want anything Ukrainian to exist, I’m sure of that,” Mr Zelenskyy told his troops in Bakhmut.

“This is not just Bakhmut, this is fortress Bakhmut,” he said, handing out honours to Ukraine servicemen.

A man walking along a street that is partly barricaded.

A local resident walks along a street in the area of the heaviest battles in Bakhmut, Ukraine. Source: AAP, AP / Andriy Andriyenko

The brutal trench warfare and artillery battles around Bakhmut — once known for its vineyards and cavernous salt mines — have flattened large portions of the city and its surroundings.

Mr Putin said this week that the situation in but does not control militarily was “extremely difficult”.
In September, he announced the annexation of four regions in the east and south of Ukraine after Moscow’s proxies held referendums there, denounced as a sham by Kyiv and the West.
Russian troops never fully controlled any of the territories, and last month after a months-long Ukrainian counteroffensive.

After a series of setbacks and lost territory this summer and autumn, Moscow stepped up its aerial campaign to target Ukraine’s energy grid.

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