Zelenskyy gives Biden military medal from HIMARS unit captain
US President Joe Biden welcomed Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the White House on Wednesday with renewed assurances of US support amid Russia’s continued onslaught on Ukraine.
“Thank you first of all,” Zelenskyy told the US president in a meeting in the Oval Office. “It’s a great honor to be here.”
The Ukrainian president, who said he had wanted to come to the US earlier, offered his appreciation to Biden, the US Congress and ordinary Americans for their support.
He gave Biden the Ukrainian cross for military merit, offered by a captain of a HIMARS rocket unit it had been awarded to.
“Well, undeserved but appreciated,” Biden said, promising to give the Ukrainian captain a command coin from a US battlefield in Iraq, where his son Beau had fought.
The US-supplied HIMARS rocket systems have proven to be pivotal to the Ukrainian offensives in August that drove the Russians out of Kharkiv and then Kherson last month, bolstering Ukraine’s strategy of hitting Russian command-and-control nodes, logistics routes and ammunition dumps.
Biden also pledged to strengthen Ukraine’s ability to defend itself, particularly its air defense. “That’s why we’re going to be providing Ukraine with a Patriot missile battery and training your forces to be able to accurately use it,” he said.
“You are the man of the year,” the US president then told Zelenskyy of Time Magazine’s decision to put him on cover.
Biden also said Russian President Vladimir Putin is “escalating his assaults on civilians” and trying to “use winter as a weapon.”
Zelenskyy arrived at the White House’s South Lawn in a black Chevrolet with tinted windows, wearing his trademark olive green sweater and cargo pants. He stood between Biden and his wife Jill for a photo, then Biden put his arm around him as he guided him inside.
Zelenskyy said he would hold talks with Biden to strengthen Kyiv’s defense capabilities against Russia’s devastating invasion.
He will participate in a joint news conference with Biden, and then Zelenskyy will go to Congress on Capitol Hill to address a joint meeting of the US Senate and House of Representatives.