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Russia’s war in Ukraine and Zelensky’s visit to the US

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and US President Joe Biden walk through the White House colonnade on Wednesday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and US President Joe Biden walk through the White House colonnade on Wednesday. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

During his visit to the US, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will likely have a few points he wants to convey to US President Joe Biden, Congress and the American people, Steven Pifer, a former US ambassador to Ukraine, said.

The first of those points will likely be gratitude, Pifer said on CNN as Ukrainian president arrived in Washington, DC, Wednesday.

“The United States has been the key partner for Ukraine as it fights off this unprovoked war of aggression that Vladimir Putin launched on Ukraine back in February,” he said.

Biden is set to announce an additional $1.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine during the visit, with the coveted Patriot missile systems as part of that package. Additionally, Congress is poised to sign off on another $45 billion in aid for Ukraine and NATO allies, deepening the commitment that has helped Kyiv’s forces inflict an unexpectedly bloody price on Putin’s forces. 

That’s on top of dozens of previous financial and military aid packages from the US since the war began.

Pifer said Zelensky will use his visit to make the case that this assistance needs to continue as the war drags on into the winter months. Zelensky will likely try to argue that not only is it good for Ukraine — but that fighting Russia is in US interests as well, Pifer said in his analysis.

“Going back 70 years, it’s been in the US national interest to have a stable and secure Europe. If Russia wins this war, you’re not going to have that kind of Europe. It’s going to soak up much more time and American resources,” he said.

Another point, Pifer said, is that “we don’t know how far Vladimir Putin’s ambitions go.”

“When he talks about Ukraine, he talks about not a sovereign country, but what he refers to as historic Russian land,” Pifer said, adding that its hard for the US and other ally countries to tell if Russia would continue its aggression on other parts in the region — including some countries, like Poland, who are members of NATO.

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