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Ukrainian President Zelenskyy arrives at the White House ahead of addressing Congress

President Biden welcomes President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the White House on Wednesday.
Drew Angerer
Getty Images
President Biden welcomes President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the White House on Wednesday.

Updated December 21, 2022 at 4:28 PM ET

Follow live updates on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's trip here.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived at the White House this afternoon greeted by President Biden and the first lady.

He is only expected to be in the U.S. for a few hours to meet with Biden and administration officials and to address a joint meeting of Congress.

The trip is aimed at underscoring U.S. support for the country as Russia's war against its neighbor drags on.

Watch the news conference with Biden and Zelenskyy live at 4:30 p.m. ET. Zelenskyy's address to Congress will be streamed here beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Ahead of Zelenskyy's arrival on the South Lawn, the Defense Department announced $1.85 billion in new security aid, including a Patriot surface-to-air missile battery. The United States will train Ukraine's military how to use the Patriot in a third country, an administration official said, noting it will take time before it is operational in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian president's visit is the first to the U.S. since Russia launched its attack in February. It also comes as lawmakers are preparing to vote on an omnibus spending bill that includes $44.9 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine and NATO allies.

Congress is voting on sending more aid

The U.S. has been a strong ally of Ukraine in its war against Russia. So far, lawmakers have provided over $65 billion in aid to Ukraine, including humanitarian aid.

Some Republicans in the House have expressed concern about the billions of dollars of military and economic aid sent to the country since the war began. In October, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said he was wary about giving Ukraine a "blank check." McCarthy is poised to become speaker of the House in January.

The senior administration official insisted that the fanfare around the visit was not aimed at quelling complaints about the spending.

"This isn't about sending a message to a particular political party — this is about sending a message to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and sending a message to the world that America will be there for Ukraine for as long as it takes," the official said, noting the size of the congressional package demonstrates that there is "broad, deep and bipartisan" support for the aid.

Zelenskyy previously addressed Congress via video from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in March. He called on lawmakers to send additional support at that time, too. This time, he will be making his appeal in person.

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Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.
Tom Bowman is a NPR National Desk reporter covering the Pentagon.