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Zelensky travels to the United States in his first departure from Ukraine since the start of the war

The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyis expected this Wednesday in Washington, United States, on his first international trip since the start of the war, after having traveled the day before to one of the hottest spots on the eastern front.

The visit was confirmed to AFP by a US official and will include a meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House to announce a new arms package for kyiv.

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US media say this new assistance includes Patriot missiles, crucial for Ukraine to defend itself against Russian missiles and drones that have devastated its energy system in recent weeks.

The visit, still tentative and subject to security conditions, would be the first international trip for Zelensky since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24.

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The speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, invited by letter Tuesday to members of Congress to attend in person a night session on Wednesday “particularly dedicated to democracy,” without elaborating.

Without confirming receipt, Pelosi maintained that the visit from an “all-out hero” like Zelensky would “honor the United States Congress,” which is preparing a budget bill with $44.9 billion of additional aid for Ukraine.

From the battlefield to the Capitol

Hours earlier, the Ukrainian president was on the same battlefront in the eastern city of Bakhmut, devastated after months of attacks by Russian troops, who have failed to control it.

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Over there, Zelensky He received a flag signed by combatants and advanced that he will deliver it “to the US Congress, to the US president.” “We appreciate his support, but it’s not enough,” he said.

The surprise move to Bakhmut appeared as a challenge to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, who was at the same time handing out decorations in the Kremlin to soldiers and pro-Russian separatist leaders from eastern Ukraine.

It was not the first time that Zelensky went to the front, but this displacement has been the most risky so far since the Russian troops have claimed the capture of towns at the gates of Bakhmut.

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Moscow troops have been trying to seize Bakhmut for months, with the help of mercenaries from the Wagner paramilitary group.

The city, now ravaged by fighting, was known for its vineyards and salt flats, and had a population of about 70,000 before the Russian invasion in February.

“Eastern Fortress”

While Zelensky Meeting soldiers at the front, Putin appeared on television handing out decorations to Russian soldiers and political and business personalities inside the Kremlin.

“Our country has repeatedly faced challenges and defended its sovereignty. Today Russia is again facing the same challenge,” she stated.

In a previous intervention addressed to his security services, the Russian leader acknowledged that the situation was “extremely difficult” in the four Ukrainian territories that Moscow claims to have annexed.

On Wednesday he should meet with senior Russian military commanders to draw conclusions from the past year and set his army’s goals for 2023, the Kremlin said.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu will report on the “progress of the special military operation” in Ukraine at the meeting, in which 15,000 officials will participate.

The Russian president has not visited the front line or Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine since the invasion began.

However, at the beginning of December he appeared at the wheel of a car on the Crimean bridge that connects Russia with the peninsula, annexed in 2014, and in October in a training camp for those mobilized.

Following a series of Russian military setbacks in north-east and south Ukraine, the bulk of the fighting is now concentrated in the south and east of the country.

At the same time, Russia has been bombarding Ukrainian infrastructure massively since October, periodically causing power and water cuts.

However, the Ukrainian military command is keeping an eye on Belarus, a Moscow ally that served as a platform for the invasion launched by Russian troops in February.

Source: Elcomercio

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