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


John Kirby, the strategic communications coordinator at the National Security Council, talks to “CNN This Morning” on December 21. (CNN)

US President Joe Biden invited his Ukrainian counterpart to Washington this week because he determined the war in Ukraine had entered a new stage, a top US official said Wednesday.

“The President really believes that as we approach winter, as we enter … a new phase in this war, Mr. Putin’s aggression, that this is a good time for the two leaders to sit down face to face and talk,” said John Kirby, the strategic communications coordinator at the National Security Council, on “CNN This Morning.”

The talks are expected to center on continued US military and economic assistance, along with sustaining sanctions on Russia and supporting the Ukrainian people.

But Kirby said the two would also discuss how the war might end — a sensitive topic that’s been the subject of some disagreements among Western leaders.

“I have no doubt they are going to talk about President Zelensky’s notion of a ‘just peace’ and what that looks like, what are the components of that, and how do we help Ukraine get to that point,” Kirby told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins.
“Mr. Putin it’s obviously not interested in diplomacy right now,” he said. “Quite the contrary. He’s interested in killing more Ukrainian civilians.”

He said Zelensky was cognizant of the risks he was taking in leaving Ukraine, and the US was working to ensure the trip is safe.

“We are working in lockstep with him and his staff to make sure we can make this trip safely, both coming through the United States, and coming back. We will continue to support his travel requirements as best we can,” he said.

He declined to say when the sophisticated Patriot missile defense system that Biden is expected to announce Wednesday would be operational inside Ukraine.

“It takes a long time for our troops to get trained on how to operate them. So, we will have to factor all of that in,” he said.


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