Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Visits White House For Joint Appearance With Biden

President Biden is meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday before the two hold a joint news conference at the White House, with the pair making a renewed push for Congress to approve more aid for Ukraine in its war with Russia before the end of the year. At the top of his meeting with Zelenskyy, Mr. Biden announced he's signed an additional $200 million in drawdown funds for Ukraine. 

Tuesday, December 12th 2023, 2:26 pm

By: CBS News


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President Biden is meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday before the two hold a joint news conference at the White House, with the pair making a renewed push for Congress to approve more aid for Ukraine in its war with Russia before the end of the year. At the top of his meeting with Zelenskyy, Mr. Biden announced he's signed an additional $200 million in drawdown funds for Ukraine. 

WATCH LIVE: President Biden, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hold joint press conference at the White House.

Zelenskyy began his trip to Washington with meetings on Capitol Hill, where he met with senators and House Speaker Mike Johnson to push for more aid. Republicans have demanded stricter border security measures and immigration policy changes in exchange for more funding for Kyiv. GOP senators leaving the meeting expressed support for Zelenskyy but said the Biden administration must still agree to immigration changes before they agree to another round of assistance.

"The decisions we make now are going to determine the future for decades to come, particularly in Europe," Mr. Biden said in his meeting with Zelenskyy. "And this is one of those moments. Congress needs to pass the supplemental funding for Ukraine before they break for the holiday recess, before they give [Vladimir] Putin the greatest Christmas gift they could possibly give him."

Zelenskyy, speaking in English as he read off notes in the Oval Office, said he wants to speak with Mr. Biden on strengthening aid, particularly when it comes to air defense operations. Zelenskyy said he met with the heads of American defense companies on Monday, thanking engineers and leaders for building the strength of American weapons. 

A Democratic bill with billions of dollars for Ukraine failed to pass the Senate last week, and the prospects for reaching a deal before year's end appear slim. The Office of Management and Budget has warned that U.S. funding for Ukraine will run dry by the end of the month. Lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn for their holiday break this week.

While many Senate Republicans support arming Ukraine, some GOP members in the House have grown skeptical, demanding improved metrics and accountability while insisting that U.S. border security should be the priority. After a briefing on Ukraine on Tuesday, Rep. Mike Waltz tweeted: "Just left a closed-door briefing on Ukraine — still NO CLEAR STRATEGIC GOAL outlined by the Biden Administration."

Two U.S. officials said the administration is expected to announce another $200 million drawdown of weapons for Ukraine this week. This relatively small package includes essentials like 105mm and 155mm artillery rounds and HIMARS munitions. This year, the administration is having to dole out small tranches of assistance as it stretches the remaining funding. That stands in contrast to last year, when the U.S. pledged a $1 billion drawdown with a Patriot battery to Ukraine on the day Zelenskyy visited the White House.   

The U.S. intelligence community estimates that Russia has lost the majority of its pre-2022 military personnel to death or injury since the war began, according to a source familiar with the figures, which were recently briefed to Capitol Hill. Before 2022, Russia's military had 360,000 personnel, and of those, 315,000 have been lost in Ukraine. Russia has also lost 2,200 of the 3,500 tanks it had before 2022, forcing Moscow to draw on large stocks of Soviet-era equipment in storage, such as T-62 tanks last produced in the 1970s.

Zelenskyy last visited Washington in September, when he thanked Congress for its help and requested more aid. 

"I hope that the U.S. Congress will continue to take important decisions to provide financial assistance to Ukraine," Zelenskyy tweeted after his September visit. "Oversight, transparency, and accountability for all the aid is absolutely important and imperative."

How to watch Biden's press conference with Zelenskyy

  1. What: Biden and Zelenskyy hold joint press conference 
  2. Date: Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023
  3. Time: 4:15 p.m. 
  4. Location: White House
  5. Online stream: Live on CBS News in the player above and on your mobile or streaming device.

Eleanor Watson and Olivia Gazis contributed to this report. 

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