Zelenskyy tells Biden: ‘No compromises’ in path to peace to end war in Ukraine

ITV News Correspondent Robert Moore explains the significance of the historic meeting between the two leaders

Volodymyr Zelenskyy said there cannot be a "just peace" with Russia, as Joe Biden promised to ramp up defensive support for the war effort on the Ukrainian's president first foreign trip since the invasion of his country in February.

The Ukrainian President paid a defiant wartime visit to Washington on Wednesday to thank US leaders and “ordinary Americans” for their support in fighting off Russia’s invasion.

At a press conference at the White House, he said the war would end once Ukraine’s sovereignty, freedom and territorial integrity were restored, as well as the “payback for all the damages inflicted by Russian aggression.”

"The longer the war lasts the longer this aggression lasts, there will be more parents who live for the sake of vengeance, or revenge, and I know a lot of people like that," Mr Zelenskyy said, rejecting Mr Biden’s framing of a “just peace”.

"So there cannot be any just peace in the war that was imposed on us."

Volodymyr Zelenskyy said ‘just peace’ is no compromises

Just before his arrival, the US announced its largest single delivery of arms to Ukraine, and Congress planned to vote on a spending package that includes about $45 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine.

The latest tranche of US funding would be the biggest yet to Ukraine, and the US military aid package will include, for the first time, a Patriot missile battery and precision guided bombs for its fighter jets, US officials said.

It represents an expansion in the kinds of advanced weaponry intended to bolster Ukraine's air defences against what has been an increasing barrage of Russian missiles.

The Patriot missile is considered by many to be among the most advanced US air defence systems, providing protection against attacking aircraft, as well as cruise and ballistic missiles.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has said the delivery of the advanced surface-to-air missile system would be considered a provocative step and that the system and any crews accompanying it would be a legitimate target for Moscow’s military. “It’s a defensive system,” Biden said of sending the missile system. “It’s not escalatory - it’s defensive.”

Mr Biden said Vladimir Putin is targeting "critical" infrastructure in "brutal" attacks to make life as hard as possible for Ukrainian civilians. "We understand in our bones that Ukraine's fight is part of something much bigger," the US president told reporters. "The American people know that if we stand by in the face of such blatant attacks on liberty and democracy, and the core principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, the world would surely face worse consequences." Describing Ukraine's military successes in the war, Mr Biden says the embattled country defied Moscow's expectations at every turn, winning the battle of Kyiv, Kherson and Kharkiv. He went on to thank lawmakers in Congress for backing his "omnibus bill" for Ukraine, which he says includes $45bn of additional funding.

'We will keep the flame of liberty burning bright,' Joe Biden said during the press conference

"The American people are with you every step of the way and we will stay with you, we will stay with you for as long as it takes" Mr Biden added.

"What you are doing, what you have achieved, it matters not just to Ukraine, but to the entire world."

The Ukrainian president was earlier greeted by the US president and first lady Jill Biden, before he went inside the White House for a meeting in the Oval Office.

In brief remarks before reporters, Mr Biden told his Ukrainian counterpart that “it's an honour to be by your side”, adding that Ukrainians "inspire the world".

Mr Zelenskyy said he wanted to visit the US at an earlier time, but could not, as he stressed that the “war is not over” because his country faces many challenges in battling Russia.

"All my appreciation from my heart, from the heart of Ukrainians," he told the US President, as he praised Mr Biden for his "leadership" in the war effort.

As the two leaders had a fireside chat, Mr Zelenskyy presented Mr Biden with a military award that he said was handed to him by a "real hero". “I want to give you something,” Mr Zelenskyy said, passing Mr Biden a cross for military merit. Mr Zelenskyy said a captain of a HIMARS rocket system gave him the medal when he was in Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine, on Tuesday.

The US- supplied HIMARS rocket systems have been key to the Ukrainian offensives in August that forced Russian troops out of Kharkiv and then Kherson in November.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy meeting Joe Biden at the White House

“A real hero, a real captain and he asked me to pass his award and he asked me to pass his award to President Biden. He will understand.” Mr Biden, in turn, praised the Ukrainian's "courage" and "resolve" in the face of Russian aggression, pledging financial and humanitarian assistance to strengthen Ukraine's ability to defend itself.

The US president told Mr Zelenskyy he was "the man of the year" - a reference to Time Magazine's decision to put the Ukrainian leader on its cover for "proving that courage can be as contagious as fear".

Ukraine's president was greeted by US president Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden. Credit: AP

Mr Zelenskyy is set to give a speech to Congress later and hold a number of meetings in Washington to shore up support for Ukraine.

While in the air, he had earlier tweeted that he planned to strengthen the country’s “resilience and defence capabilities”.

As diplomatic ties were cemented between Kyiv and Washington, the Kremlin warned that increasing the supply of US arms to Ukraine would aggravate the war. Russia's defence minister called for expanding Moscow's military by at least 500,000 people.

US and Ukrainian flags are put in place along Pennsylvania Ave in Washington. Credit: AP

Mr Zelenskyy headed to Washington after making a daring trip on Tuesday to what he called the hottest spot on the 800-mile front line of the war, the city of Bakhmut in Ukraine’s contested Donetsk province.

The city, about 380 miles east of Kyiv, has remained in Ukrainian hands, thwarting Moscow’s goal of capturing the rest of Donetsk province and the entire Donbas industrial region.

The Ukrainian president has - almost daily - addressed various parliaments and international organisations by video and he has sent his wife to foreign capitals, including London, to drum up assistance against the Russian invasion.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in her invitation to Mr Zelenskyy to speak to lawmakers, said “the fight for Ukraine is the fight for democracy itself”, adding they were looking forward to "hearing your inspiring message of unity, resilience and determination”.

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