A charismatic presence in his trademark green uniform, Zelenskyy will presumably argue that his nation’s survival depends on a continuous flow of money and sophisticated weaponry from the US and its allies.
recent polls it shows that Americans are war-weary and eager to see an end date. Russia failed to quickly conquer its smaller neighbor, but has given no sign that it is prepared to withdraw its forces. Kyiv is not about to give up either. Ukraine is preparing a counter-offensive to retake the occupied land and show the difference western support can make on the battlefield.
Biden, who last saw Zelenskyy in person during a surprise trip to kyiv three months ago, vowed at the time that the United States would support Ukraine for “as long as it takes”.
That open engagement will test the resolve and patience of Americans in an election season, as the Biden administration spends billions to help keep Ukraine fighting.
War appears to be an issue in the 2024 presidential race. Republican frontrunner Donald Trump stopped short of saying he wants Ukraine to win, telling CNN recently that if elected, he would end the conflict within 24 hours by meeting with Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An unexpected internal problem has intruded on Biden’s trip: the fight against the debt ceiling in Washington.
Biden had originally planned to visit Papua New Guinea and Australia as part of an effort to rally US allies and curb China’s growing influence in the Pacific. He canceled those legs of the trip so he could return to the White House on Sunday and resume talks about raising the debt ceiling and avoiding an unprecedented default that could have global implications.
«It’s a small miracle that Biden went through with the Hiroshima trip,» said Daniel Russell, former director of Asian affairs at the Obama White House. «I’m glad he did it and we should all pray that this [debt ceiling fight] gets involved, because the consequences would be devastating, and not just for the US. Everyone is worried.»
Zelenskyy will join a summit meeting that is about to make the war even more costly for Russia.
Biden attended a working lunch Friday focused on the war: documents spread out on a round table with each country’s flags in the background. Present were the leaders of Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Commission and the European Council.
A Biden administration official told reporters Thursday that the G-7 nations will take steps to isolate Russia, including closing loopholes that allow it to evade sanctions, reducing reliance on Russian energy, freezing assets and further restrict exports to Russia.
«Our commitment to continue to tighten the screws on Russia remains as strong as last year,» the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak officially. «And then, I think … you will see new steps being taken to isolate Russia economically and weaken its ability to wage war.»
Beyond the sanctions, Zelenskyy has called for advanced F-16 fighter jets to help repel Russian forces. So far, the Biden administration has refused to provide the planes out of fear that weapons capable of reaching Russian soil could escalate the war. But the United States invited the Ukrainian pilots to train on simulators to assess how long it would take them to learn to fly the plane.
At the summit, Zelenskyy will have a new opportunity to push the planes.
“It’s very helpful,” Russell said of Zelenskyy’s visit. “If the industrialized countries get tired of Ukraine before Russia gets tired of war and gets tired of fighting, then there will be a big problem. Zelenskyy has been brilliant in ensuring that the world sees the situation for what it is, and doesn’t burn out or burn out.»
The location of the summit is symbolic of the deadly threat that is a daily concern for Ukraine, as well as for Asian countries living in the shadow of nuclear-armed China and North Korea.
During World War II, the United States razed Hiroshima with a single atomic bomb. On Friday morning, Biden and his counterparts toured the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and met a woman who survived the attack.
In the park outside, leaders laid wreaths and planted a tree overlooking the skeletal remains of a once-dome building that Japan has preserved as a reminder of the bomb toll.
darina mayer contributed.