The president of the United States, Joe Biden, receives his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodimir Zelensky, at the White House. The leaders entered the Oval Office at 3:40 p.m. (7:40 p.m. GMT) local time after a walk of a few minutes from the Palm Tree Room.
The meeting comes amid discussions in Washington about the possibility of sending long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine, a request that kyiv has been doing it for months. White House spokesman John Kirby said at a news conference Wednesday that no final decision has yet been made on the matter.
The issue of ATACMS missiles was raised by Biden during the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July. At that time, the US administration focused more on the delivery of artillery, a resource widely used in the current conflict. Ukraine has reiterated that the ATACMS missiles, with a range of approximately 300 kilometers, they would be especially useful in countering Russian missile launchers in Crimea.
The White House has expressed caution about sending this type of weapons to Ukraine. One concern is that ATACMS missiles have the potential to hit locations in Russia, which could trigger a military response from Moscow. France and the United Kingdom, on the other hand, have already decided to send long-range missiles to Ukraine; France will send SCALP missiles, and the United Kingdom will send Storm Shadow missiles.
The meeting between Biden and Zelensky coincides with debates in the US Congress on the approval of An additional $24 billion in humanitarian and military aid for Ukraine. Some Republican lawmakers have expressed reservations about continuing the aid, questioning the effectiveness of the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
To address these concerns, Zelensky plans to meet with members of Congress from both parties during his visit to Washington, according to Kirby. In addition to the meeting at the White House, Zelensky will visit the Pentagon. There, the Ukrainian leader will meet with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, and other senior military leaders.
Zelensky’s visit to the United States follows his participation in the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Week in New York. This global forum brings together leaders from around the world to discuss pressing issues and deliver speeches to their international colleagues.
The bilateral meeting between the United States and Ukraine joins a series of diplomatic events that seek to address the situation in Ukraine, which continues to face armed conflicts and tensions with Russia. Meanwhile, both the US Congress and other international actors are closely watching how the talks develop and what kind of assistance could ultimately be extended to Ukraine.