Zelenskiy could visit Biden and the US Congress on Wednesday

Biden was scheduled to meet Zelenskiy at the White House, a source said. The Ukrainian leader’s visit would coincide with Biden’s intention to deploy the Kiev government’s Patriot missiles, CNN reported, to protect it from heavy Russian bombing.

Zelenskiy’s spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Zelenskiy last left Ukraine on February 19 for the Munich Security Conference, according to his official schedule.

The trip abroad after 10 months of war will include visiting lawmakers at the US Capitol, a source familiar with the schedule said on Tuesday. The trip has not been confirmed and security concerns could force a change of plans, the source said.

Punchbowl News, citing sources familiar with the matter, was the first to report Zelenskiy’s possible visit.

The office of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Zelenskiy’s reported visit.

Earlier Tuesday, Pelosi said in a letter that there would be a meeting of Congress Wednesday night with a “very special focus on democracy.”

‘FORT BAKHMUT’

The Ukrainian leader made a surprise visit to troops in the battered eastern frontline town of Bakhmut, his office said Tuesday, underscoring Russia’s stuttering but persistent efforts to take that town.

In contrast, Russian President Vladimir Putin presented medals in the comfort of the Kremlin to the Russian-appointed leaders of four regions of Ukraine that Moscow says it has annexed since invading its neighbor.

In his video address on Tuesday evening, Zelenskiy referred to his trip to “Fortress Bakhmut” in Donetsk, one of the provinces Russia claimed in September but which most countries reject as illegal occupation.

He said he passed several towns in the Donetsk region, including Sloviansk, Kramatorsk and Kostyantynivka, which have long been mentioned as possible Russian targets.

“Please support our Bakhmut – ragged but unconquered – and his defenders,” Zelenskiy said in his speech.

The most devastating fighting in recent weeks took place around Bakhmut, where Zelenskiy, dressed in combat khaki, handed out medals to soldiers in a disused industrial complex to loud applause, according to a video released by his office.

As the distant roar of artillery could be heard, he urged them to keep their spirits up as the Battle of Bakhmut, which has come to symbolize the ferocity of the war, enters its fifth month.

“The East stands because Bakhmut fights. In hard battles and at the cost of many lives, freedom is defended here for all of us,” Zelenskiy wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Earlier, he repeated calls for the West for more weapons, including air defense systems, after Russian drones hit energy targets in a third airstrike on energy facilities in six days.

The US government has submitted a funding proposal to the Senate for 44.9 billion dollars in emergency aid for Ukraine and NATO allies. The money would be used for military training, equipment, logistics and intelligence support, as well as to rebuild US equipment sent to the government in Kiev.

The World Bank said on Tuesday it had approved an additional financing package totaling $610 million to meet Ukraine’s urgent aid and recovery needs.

PUTIN ACKNOWLEDGES DIFFICULTIES

Putin asked Russian security services to significantly improve their work, one of his clearest public admissions to date that the invasion did not go according to plan.

He acknowledged problems for Russian troops in parts of Ukraine.

“The situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics, in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions is extremely difficult,” Putin said in a video address to security officials, translated by Reuters.

Western countries imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia and the ruble fell to a more than seven-month low against the dollar on Tuesday after the European Union agreed to cap the prices of natural gas, a major Russian export.

ATTACK ON ELECTRIC NETWORKS

Russian airstrikes on Ukraine’s power grid, which Kiev says are targeting civilians to break their will to resist, have repeatedly disrupted power and water supplies in a cold winter.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Ukrainians should prepare for new Russian attacks on energy infrastructure as Moscow wants them to spend Christmas and New Year in the dark.

Electricity supplier YASNO, which covers the area of ​​the capital Kiev, did not offer an immediate reprieve for residents hoping for at least planned outages.

“We don’t even count on a return to planned closures,” Sergey Kovalenko, YASNO chief executive, said in a Facebook post late Tuesday.

Russian troops on Tuesday continued to practice tank and artillery fire against Ukrainian positions in 24 settlements near Bakhmut and nearby Avdiivka, again shelling northeastern and southern areas recently recaptured by Ukrainian forces, the Ukrainian army said General Staff in its statement. .

Ukrainian aircraft carried out 10 strikes on concentrations of Russian ground forces and equipment and additional strikes against anti-aircraft guns, an ammunition depot and three command posts, it said, without naming locations.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the accounts from either side of the battlefield.

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