This combination of file pictures created on July 21, 2021 shows Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky (left) in Riga, Latvia, on Oct16, 2019; and US President Joe Biden speaking on June 4, 2021, at the Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, Convention Center. (JIM WATSON, GINTS LVUSKANS / AFP)
KYIV/WASHINGTON – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will visit the United States on Wednesday, during which he will meet with US President Joe Biden and then address a joint session of Congress, a senior US official said Tuesday.
Zelensky's trip was so carefully arranged that even though reported by multiple US media outlets earlier on Tuesday, it was said to still have the potential of failing to materialize at the last minute due to heightened security concerns – until the senior administration official formally made the announcement at a briefing with reporters.
Coinciding with the occasion of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's visit, US President Joe Biden is expected to approve a new tranche of security assistance for Ukraine worth nearly $2 billion on Wednesday, a senior US official said
During what will be his first overseas trip since the conflict between Ukraine and Russia broke out in late February, the Ukrainian leader will have "an extended sit-down" with Biden at the White House, a meeting with key members of the US national security team and Cabinet-level officials, and then the opportunity to meet with reporters at a press conference, according to the official.
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Coinciding with the occasion of Zelensky's visit, Biden is expected to approve a new tranche of security assistance for Ukraine worth nearly $2 billion on Wednesday, the official said.
Included in that package is a Patriot surface-to-air missile battery, an advanced US weapon system that the media have speculated for quite some time the Biden administration is prepared to send to Ukraine.
The official added that the United States will train Ukrainian soldiers on how to use the Patriot battery "in a third country," which "will take some time."
Russia has warned that the US delivery of the Patriot to Ukraine will come with "consequences."
Zelensky will also head to Capitol Hill to deliver a speech at a joint session of Congress on Wednesday evening, the official said.
Hours prior to the briefing, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter encouraged members of her chamber to be present for a "very special" session drawing an end to the 117th Congress, stopping short of providing specifics. It now appears that she was referring to the event hosting Zelensky as a guest speaker.
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Zelensky will also head to Capitol Hill to deliver a speech at a joint session of Congress on Wednesday evening, the official said
On Tuesday morning, the House Appropriations Committee released the "Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2023" that will provide Ukraine with $45 billion in emergency assistance.
The administration official expected the aid money to pass with bipartisan support. It is contained in a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government through fiscal year 2023.
That $45 billion sum represents the biggest infusion of Washington's aid to Kyiv, surpassing even the White House's request made to Congress last month asking for a $37 billion appropriation aimed at helping Ukraine in the ongoing conflict, which entered its 300th day Wednesday.
In this handout picture taken and released on Dec 20, 2022 by the Ukrainian Presidential press services, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky (left) hands out the State Award to a soldier during a medal giving ceremony to Ukrainian servicemen who have been holding back a Russian military campaign for the city, as part of Zelensky's visit in the eastern frontline city of Bakhmut. (STRINGER / UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP)
Visit to frontline city
Meanwhile, Zelensky visited the frontline city of Bakhmut in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region, the presidential press service reported.
During his working visit, Zelensky met with personnel of a mechanized brigade involved in the confrontation with Russian forces on the approaches to the city.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also awarded troops from the mechanized, motorized infantry, mountain assault, tank, artillery and airmobile units with state awards
Zelensky listened to the commander's report on the operational situation on the frontline and thanked the Ukrainian military for their courage, resilience and strength demonstrated during the fighting.
The Ukrainian president also awarded troops from the mechanized, motorized infantry, mountain assault, tank, artillery and airmobile units with state awards.
In recent weeks, Bakhmut has been the epicenter of the fighting between Ukrainian and Russian troops.
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The logo of the International Monetary Fund is displayed outside its headquarters in Washington, DC, on Oct 8, 2022. (STEFANI REYNOLDS / AFP)
IMF's support for Ukraine
Separately, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a new program for Ukraine to support its macroeconomic and financial stability and catalyze donor financing, the National Bank of Ukraine said Tuesday.
The IMF's new program for Ukraine is aimed at mobilizing state budget revenues, strengthening the financial sector, and improving management transparency and effectiveness for state-owned enterprises
The four-month Program Monitoring with Board Involvement does not directly provide financial assistance, but creates instruments for transitioning to a new, long-term Upper-Credit Tranche program of the IMF, the bank said in a statement.
The program is aimed at mobilizing state budget revenues, strengthening the financial sector, and improving management transparency and effectiveness for state-owned enterprises.
"Ukraine hopes that the approval of the program will provide our partners with confidence and optimal conditions to ensure sufficiently rhythmic financial inflows amid high needs of the balance of payments and the state budget," Andriy Pyshnyy, the bank's governor, was quoted as saying in the statement.
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This handout picture taken and released by the Turkish Defense Ministry press office on Aug 3, 2022 shows an inspection delegation member inspecting the Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni carrying 26,000 tonnes of corn from Ukraine, off the coast of north-west Istanbul. (TURKISH DEFENSE MINISTRY / AFP)
Reduce grain planting areas by 22 percent
In another development, Ukraine will reduce the grain planting areas by 22 percent next year to 8.7 million hectares, the UBN media outlet reported Monday, citing a recent forecast by an industry body.
According to the Ukrainian Agribusiness Club, the decrease in the grain planting areas will result in the reduction of Ukraine's gross grain output to 34 million tons next year, 37 percent less than in 2022
At the same time, the planting areas for oil crops will increase by 32 percent to 9.7 million hectares in 2023, said the forecast by the Ukrainian Agribusiness Club.
According to the club, the decrease in the grain planting areas will result in the reduction of Ukraine's gross grain output to 34 million tons next year, 37 percent less than in 2022.
Ukraine's grain and oilseeds exports are expected to stand at 35 million tons in 2023, the forecast said.
In 2021, Ukraine harvested a record yield of grain, legumes and oilseeds, totaling more than 106 million tons.
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In the 2021-2022 marketing year, between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, the Eastern European country exported 85 million tons of cereals and oilseeds.