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WASHINGTON: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will meet US leader Joe Biden and address Congress in Washington on Wednesday after Vladimir Putin vowed to strengthen the Russian military in Ukraine.

The secretly arranged trip comes as the Russian president blamed the West for the “shared tragedy” of the war and said Moscow would develop its military’s nuclear capabilities.

It will be Zelensky’s first trip outside Ukraine since Russian forces invaded in February, when they planned for a rapid takeover of Kyiv and much of the country.

Zelensky’s visit will “underscore the United States’ steadfast commitment to supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said.

It comes after nearly 10 months of a war has seen Russian forces halted by a stubborn Ukrainian army backed by Western arms, forced to retreat from captured territory and struggling to avoid further setbacks.

“On my way to the US to strengthen resilience and defense capabilities of (Ukraine),” Zelensky tweeted, confirming that he will make a speech to Congress in person.

Zelensky will visit the White House where Biden is to announce a new arms package worth almost $2 billion that a senior administration official said includes Patriot air defense missiles.

Patriot missiles are seen as crucial to help Kyiv fend off Russia’s punishing missile and drone attacks on its infrastructure.

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