Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is preparing to visit Washington on Wednesday, according to three AP sources, in his first known trip outside the country since Russia’s invasion began in February.
Two congressional sources and one person familiar with the matter confirmed plans for the visit. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the highly sensitive nature of the trip.
The AP reported that Zelenskyy’s visit, while expected, could still be called off at the last minute due to security concerns.
The visit to Washington is set to include an address to Congress on Capitol Hill and a meeting with President Joe Biden.
It comes as lawmakers are set to vote on a year-end spending package that includes about $45 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine and as the U.S. prepares to send Patriot surface-to-air missiles to the country to help stave off Russia’s invasion.
The bill, which runs for 4,155 pages, includes about $772.5 billion for non-defense discretionary programs and $858 billion in defense funding and would last through the end of the fiscal year in September.
The bill is Congress’ largest assistance package for Ukraine to date, following a $40 billion package signed into law in May, a $12 billion supplement in September, and $800 million authorized in Congress’ defense spending budget, bringing the total anticipated support for Ukraine in 2022 to nearly $100 billion, according to the Associated Press.
This number exceeds President Joe Biden’s $37 billion request for military, economic and humanitarian support for Ukraine despite some Republican opposition to offering a “blank check” to Ukraine.
“Finalizing the omnibus is critical, absolutely critical for supporting our friends in Ukraine,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said, according to the AP.
Congress appropriated $858 billion in defense funding, in line with the FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act that passed the Senate last week.
It includes $9 billion in direct military assistance under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and $11.9 billion to finance future drawdowns of U.S. weapons stocks and replacements with new equipment through September 2024, the bill shows.
Other funds go toward upgrading the U.S. troop presence in Europe, expanding research and development programs, and increasing procurement thresholds.
It also directs the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense to provide Congress with a report on actions taken to guarantee that weapons given to Ukraine reach their targeted recipient and are used per their intended purpose, as well as “any other measures to promote accountability” for the use of such weapons, within 45 days after the bill’s enactment.
Appropriators also directed the secretaries to report on any illicit diversions of weapons supplies.
The bill instructs The U.S. Agency For International Development, along with the Departments of State and Defense, to contract with a third party for weapons monitoring and adds provisions intended to safeguard cash transfers.
In addition, Congress appropriated at least $12.9 billion for economic aid and $2.4 billion for refugee resettlement in the U.S., along with Department of Energy funding for nuclear security.