Zelenskiy Meets With Biden as US Adds More Aid

(Bloomberg) — Volodymyr Zelenskiy arrived at the White House to a red-carpet welcome by President Joe Biden in the Ukrainian president’s first trip outside his country since Russia invaded on Feb. 24. The two presidents later took part in a joint press conference. Zelenskiy was scheduled to make an evening address to Congress before leaving Washington.

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Before the two leaders met in the Oval Office, the Biden administration confirmed nearly $2 billion in military assistance and said it would deliver a Patriot missile battery to help Ukraine bolster its defenses this winter.

President Vladimir Putin said Russia has “no limitations” on military spending for the war in Ukraine, and his defense minister said Moscow should expand its armed forces to 1.5 million troops from the current 1.15 million.

(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)

Key Developments

  • Biden Tells Zelenskiy US Seeks ‘Just Peace’ to End War

  • Zelenskiy’s High-Security Train-to-Plane Journey to Washington

  • Zelenskiy Visits US With Biden Offering More Funds, Weapons

  • Putin Vows No Limit in Funds to Ensure Army’s Victory in Ukraine

  • Why the US Is Giving a Patriot System to Ukraine: QuickTake

On the Ground

Ukrainian forces repelled assaults near 25 settlements, including the eastern city of Bakhmut, over the past day, Ukraine’s General Staff reported. Russian troops launched five missile attacks and 16 airstrikes, as well as 61 multiple rocket launcher assaults, damaging civilian infrastructure in several cities, including Kherson, according to the statement. Russia hit the southern town of Ochakiv, in Mykolayiv region, with cannon artillery on Wednesday afternoon, injuring three people including a 10-year-old child, according to Zelenskiy Office deputy chief Kyrylo Tymoshenko.

(All times CET)

Biden Says Alliance Will Endure in 2023 (11:20 pm)

Biden, in a joint press conference with Zelenskiy at the White House said, “I’m not at all worried about holding the alliance together, NATO and the European Union. “

“I don’t see any reason to believe there’ll be any lessening of support,” he said in response to a question about the continuing support for Ukraine in the new year among US allies.

Biden also spoke of Russian attacks that have left many Ukrainians without electricity, heat or water. “We’re also working to hold Russia accountable, including efforts in Congress that will make it easier to seek justice for Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine,” he said.

Senate Confirms First Woman to Serve as US Envoy to Moscow (9:09 pm)

The US Senate confirmed career US diplomat Lynne Tracy as ambassador to Russia on Wednesday, giving her the nod on the day that Zelenskiy visited Biden.

Tracy’s nomination was approved 93 to 2. She became the first woman to be confirmed as US ambassador to Moscow. In her nomination hearing on Dec. 1, Tracy said Russia’s war on Ukraine “has shattered European security and undermined global economic stability.”

The quick turnaround from Tracy’s hearing to her confirmation — just shy of three weeks — underscored the urgency with which Biden wanted to fill the ambassador post in Moscow.

Ukraine’s First Lady Hosts Online Summit of Her Counterparts (8:55 pm)

While Zelenskiy traveled to Washington, his wife Olena Zelenska hosted an online summit of her counterparts. The presidential website said participants included the first ladies of France, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Iceland, Belgium and others, including Tamara Vucic, the wife of the Serbian president.

Praising them for efforts to help the Ukrainian people, she said, “All this was possible because we have common values. The biggest one is human life and the saving of lives. Freedom and the protection of it. You were the first to understand — what Ukraine fights for has no borders.”

Biden Says Putin Trying ‘to Use Winter as a Weapon’ (8:48 pm)

Meeting with Zelenskiy in the Oval Office, Biden said Putin is “trying to use winter as a weapon” in attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure.

Praising Zelenskiy as a “great leader,” Biden said, “300 days, it’s hard to believe — 300 days of going through this as Putin has waged a brutal assault on Ukraine’s right to exist as a nation and the attack on innocent Ukrainian people. ”

Biden to Announce Patriots, Other Aid (6:01 pm)

The Biden administration announced that the US will provide Ukraine $1 billion in military aid via a drawdown of existing stock including expanded air defense and precision-strike capabilities, as well as other munitions and equipment, the State Department said in a statement.

The Defense Department is also announcing an additional $850 million of security assistance, bringing total US military aid to $21.9 billion.

The package will for the first time include the Patriot Air Defense System, which will improve Ukraine’s anti-air capabilities as it can shoot down short-range ballistic missiles and aircraft at a higher ceiling than now, the State Department said.

Sites Go Dark Across the Globe in Support for Ukraine (5:27 pm)

Over 60 famous world locations including the Colosseum in Rome, the Sydney Opera House and the Rockefeller Center in New York, will switch off the lights on Wednesday in support for Ukraine.

The project is a fundraising effort to collect aid for power generators for hospitals in Ukraine, United24, the fundraising arm of the government in Kyiv, said on Telegram.

Putin Vows No Limit in Funds to Ensure Victory (4:30 pm)

Putin said Russia has “no limitations” on military spending for the war and urged the army to deliver on his declared goals with the invasion approaching its 11th month.

“The country and government is giving everything that the army asks for — everything,” Putin told top military officials at the Defense Ministry’s annual meeting in Moscow on Wednesday.

The commitment to spare no expense on the war will be a strain on government finances as the proceeds from energy exports come under pressure from price restrictions imposed by the US and its allies.

US to Impose New Controls on Iranian-Supplied Drones to Russia (4:15 pm)

Biden’s administration is poised to announce new export controls targeting Iranian drones and drone parts that Russia has used in Ukraine since its invasion, according to people familiar with the matter.

The export controls, set to be announced Wednesday to coincide with Zelenskiy’s surprise trip to Washington, could be part of a larger sanctions package.

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