(Bloomberg) — Volodymyr Zelenskiy arrived at the White House to a red-carpet welcome by President Joe Biden in the Ukrainian president’s first trip outside his country since Russia invaded on Feb. 24. He is scheduled to make an evening address to Congress before departing Washington.
Before the two presidents met in the Oval Office, the Biden administration confirmed almost $2 billion in military assistance and said it will deliver a Patriot missile battery to help Ukraine bolster its defenses this winter.
President Vladimir Putin said Russia has “no limitations” on military spending for the war in Ukraine, and his defense minister said Moscow should expand its armed forces to 1.5 million troops from the current 1.15 million.
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Ukrainian forces repelled assaults near 25 settlements, including the eastern city of Bakhmut, over the past day, Ukraine’s General Staff reported. Russian troops launched five missile attacks and 16 airstrikes, as well as 61 multiple rocket launcher assaults, damaging civilian infrastructure in several cities, including Kherson, according to the statement. Russia hit the southern town of Ochakiv, in Mykolayiv region, with cannon artillery on Wednesday afternoon, injuring three people including a 10-year-old child, according to Zelenskiy Office deputy chief Kyrylo Tymoshenko.
Biden Says Putin Trying ‘to Use Winter as a Weapon’ (8:48 p.m.)
Meeting with Zelenskiy in the Oval Office, Biden said Putin is “trying to use winter as a weapon” in attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure.
Praising Zelenskiy as a “great leader,” Biden said, “300 days, it’s hard to believe — 300 days of going through this as Putin has waged a brutal assault on Ukraine’s right to exist as a nation and the attack on innocent Ukrainian people.”
Biden to Announce Patriots, Other Aid (6:01 p.m.)
The Biden administration announced that the US will provide Ukraine $1 billion in military aid via a drawdown of existing stock including expanded air defense and precision-strike capabilities, as well as other munitions and equipment, the State Department said in a statement.
The Defense Department is also announcing an additional $850 million of security assistance, bringing total US military aid to $21.9 billion.
The package will for the first time include the Patriot Air Defense System, which will improve Ukraine’s anti-air capabilities as it can shoot down short-range ballistic missiles and aircraft at a higher ceiling than now, the State Department said.
Sites Go Dark Across the Globe in Support for Ukraine (5:27 p.m.)
Over 60 famous world locations including the Colosseum in Rome, the Sydney Opera House and the Rockefeller Center in New York, will switch off the lights on Wednesday in support for Ukraine.
The project is a fundraising effort to collect aid for power generators for hospitals in Ukraine, United24, the fundraising arm of the government in Kyiv, said on Telegram.
Putin Vows No Limit in Funds to Ensure Victory (4:30 p.m.)
Putin said Russia has “no limitations” on military spending for the war and urged the army to deliver on his declared goals with the invasion approaching its 11th month.
“The country and government is giving everything that the army asks for — everything,” Putin told top military officials at the Defense Ministry’s annual meeting in Moscow on Wednesday.
The commitment to spare no expense on the war will be a strain on government finances as the proceeds from energy exports come under pressure from price restrictions imposed by the US and its allies.
US to Impose New Controls on Iranian-Supplied Drones to Russia (4:15 p.m.)
Biden’s administration is poised to announce new export controls targeting Iranian drones and drone parts that Russia has used in Ukraine since its invasion, according to people familiar with the matter.
The export controls, set to be announced Wednesday to coincide with Zelenskiy’s surprise trip to Washington, could be part of a larger sanctions package.
Ukraine Still Suffering From Significant Energy Deficit (10:30 a.m.)
There are limits on consumption in all Ukrainian regions after nine waves of Russian missile and drone attacks on energy targets, national grid operator Ukrenergo said.
The most difficult situations are in the capital, where half the city is still without electricity after Monday’s drone attack, Kyiv region, and the areas previously occupied by Russia in the east and south under permanent Russian shelling, Ukrenergo said.
Xi Calls for Talks on Ukraine Crisis in Meeting With Medvedev (8:56 a.m.)
Chinese President Xi Jinping met Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev, chairman of the United Russia party, in Beijing, state-run CCTV reported.
On Ukraine, Xi said he hopes all sides can remain rational and begin talks. Medvedev said the situation is “very complicated,” but Russia is willing to solve the problem through talks.
Zelenskiy to Address US Congress In-Person (8:10 a.m.)
Zelenskiy will be leaving Ukraine at a critical stage in the war. His country has faced a barrage of Russian missile and drone attacks targeting Ukraine’s civilians and critical energy infrastructure in recent weeks, leading to power and water cuts.
The speech to Congress gives Zelenskiy the opportunity to personally appeal to US lawmakers to continue assistance for Ukraine even after Republicans, who have been more skeptical of Biden’s support for the country, take control of the House in January. Zelenskiy has pleaded for more advanced weapons systems to blunt Russian attacks and for additional energy and economic support as civilians brace for a brutal winter ahead.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement that Zelenskiy’s visit to Washington will show “strong, bipartisan support for Ukraine.”
Ukrainian Hackers Gather Data on Russian Soldiers, Minister Says (8:00 a.m.)
Pro-Ukrainian hackers are gathering intelligence about Russian military personnel to help inform decision-making on the battlefield, according to Ukraine’s minister for digital transformation.
Members of Ukraine’s so-called IT Army, a volunteer band of computer specialists, is assembling a “Book of Executioners” to catalog Russian soldiers who kill and allegedly torture Ukrainians, Mykhailo Fedorov said in an interview with Bloomberg News in Kyiv.
Officials in Kyiv have previously told Bloomberg they’re documenting suspected Russian hacking incidents as part of a plan to prosecute Russian leaders in an international court.