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


(Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Three-hundred days after his country was invaded by Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky jetted to Washington, DC, for talks on what the next 300 days might bring.

US President Joe Biden and the Ukrainian leader appeared as a united front, but Biden wouldn’t invite Zelensky to Washington — and endure a risky trip outside Ukraine for the first time since the war began — if he did not believe something real could be accomplished meeting face-to-face instead of over the phone.

Emerging from their hourslong talks, both men made clear they see the war entering a new phase. 

Here are the key takeaways from Zelensky’s historic visit to Washington so far:

Trying to figure out how the war ends: Gaining clarity on where Zelensky stands when it comes to ending the war was among the prerogatives in bringing him to the White House. The Ukrainian leader has voiced a desire for a “just peace” that would end the conflict — a point that US officials said would be at the center of their talks Wednesday.

Among the Western nations that have rallied in support behind Zelensky, there have been lingering concerns about what his long-term plan might be. On Wednesday, he seemed to make clear the road to ending the war would not involve making concessions to Russia.

“For me as a president, ‘just peace’ is no compromises,” he said, indicating he doesn’t see any road to peace that involves Ukraine giving up territory or sovereignty. For his part, Biden said it was up to Zelensky to “decide how he wants to the war to end,” a long-held view that leaves plenty of questions unanswered.

More US assistance to Ukraine — including a Patriot missile system: Just ahead of Zelensky’s arrival, the Biden administration announced it is sending nearly $2 billion in additional security assistance to Ukraine — including a sophisticated new Patriot air defense system that Zelensky has been requesting for months.

In weighing a visit, Zelensky suggested to advisers he did not want to travel to Washington had there not been a significant development in the bilateral relationship with the United States, according to a source familiar with the matter. Zelensky viewed the US decision to send a Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine as a major shift in the relationship between the two allies.

Yet standing alongside Biden, he was frank that he did not view the single Patriot system as enough.

“We would like to get more Patriots,” he said as Biden laughed. “I’m sorry but we are in war.”

A united front in a complicated relationship: On the surface, Biden and Zelensky have maintained a stalwart partnership. And Zelensky was effusive in his praise of Biden as he went from the Oval Office to the East Room to Capitol Hill.

Yet it doesn’t take much to see tensions just beneath the surface. Zelensky has consistently agitated for additional US support, despite the tens of billions of dollars in military assistance that Biden has directed to his country.

That hasn’t always sat well with Biden or his team. But as he has with a host of other foreign leaders, Biden appeared intent Wednesday on translating physical proximity into a better understanding of his counterpart.

Read more takeaways here.


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