Outlining further military support, U.S. President Joe Biden said the U.S. would continue to support Ukraine against Russia “as needed”.
Standing on the podium next to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a news conference at the White House, he praised Ukrainians for their “steel backbone, love of country and choosing their own path firm determination”.
“The American people are ready for us to stand up to our bullies and stand up for our freedom. That’s who we are,” he said.
Mr Biden said Ukraine was “defying Russia’s expectations at every turn”, adding: “The American people are with you every step of the way and we will be with you … as long as needed.”
“Together we will keep the flame of freedom burning,” he added.
Mr. Zelensky thanked the United States and the American people for their support, especially the Patriot surface-to-air missile defense system, and said that “every dollar invested by the United States will be used to strengthen global security”.
“This is the only way we can deprive terrorist states of their main tools of terror — the possibility of attacking our cities, our energy,” Mr Zelensky said.
Mr Biden said the Patriot system was “a defensive system, it doesn’t escalate, it’s defensive”
Mr Biden and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken had earlier said the US would provide Ukraine with $1.85 billion in additional military aid, including the transfer of Patriot systems.
During the meeting, Ukraine’s president said his country’s defenses would be strengthened in the coming months, but would not provide further details, saying Russia needed to be held accountable for its actions.
A reporter asked Mr. Zelensky what his message was to the American people. He replied: “My message is: I wish you well.
“Stay with us because we’re really fighting for our mutual victory against this tyranny…we’re going to win. And I really want to win together. No, sorry…I’m sure.”
Earlier, at a fireside ceremony at the White House, Mr Zelensky presented Mr Biden with a medal that had been awarded to a Ukrainian military captain for bravery. The captain said he wanted the US president to get it because he supports Ukraine.
Accepting the medal, Mr Biden said: “Oh, God loves you…not worth it, but thank you very much.”
Shortly after arriving in the US, Mr Zelensky posted on his Telegram account his determination to win the war with Russia, writing: “Next year we must give back the Ukrainian flag and freedom to our entire country, to all our people.”
The US has so far provided about $50bn (£41bn) in aid to the Kyiv government to fend off a Russian invasion that began 10 months ago.
Leigh Turner, the former British ambassador to Ukraine, told Sky News Mr Zelenskyy’s main aim was to take the fatigue out of backing the country’s response to what could be a “long and hard war”.
He said: “In the beginning, everyone supported Ukraine, every Western government and the people of the UK and the US strongly supported Ukraine, from providing weapons to hosting refugees.
“Ten months later, winter is here, and there are many other crises … Even some U.S. lawmakers, mostly Republican, voted against more aid to Ukraine.”
President Biden said he was “not at all worried” about forming an international coalition to support Ukraine, saying he had never seen such unity in the NATO alliance or the European Union.
“I don’t see any sign of that changing. We all know what’s at stake here,” he said.