Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made his first trip outside his home country since the Russian invasion began in February, flying to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to meet with President Joe Biden.
In a statement, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre noted that the visit comes 300 days after “Russia launched a brutal assault against Ukraine.”
“The visit will underscore the United States’ steadfast commitment to supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes, including through the provision of economic, humanitarian, and military assistance,” Jean-Pierre added.
Earlier in the day, the U.S. Department of Defense announced $1.85 billion in additional security assistance for Ukraine, which it said will “add to a layered defense to counter the full range of threats currently menacing Ukraine’s cities and civilians.”
Dressed in his military fatigues, the 44-year-old Ukrainian leader arrived to the White House in the afternoon, where he was greeted by President Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden.
Zelenskyy then sat for a bilateral meeting with Biden in the Oval Office, where the two spoke about the war and the Ukrainian leader awarded the president a Medal of Merit from a Ukrainian soldier.
“I want to give you something. One guy is a real hero — a real captain,” Zelenskyy said, “and he asked me to pass his award to President Biden. He will understand.”
Elsewhere in the meeting, Biden spoke about how the Ukrainian people are inspiring the world.
“I’m delighted you could make the trip,” Biden said, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “escalating his assaults on civilians” and trying to “use winter as a weapon.”
“We will support Ukraine pursuing a just peace,” Biden added.
Biden also told Zelenskyy the U.S. would “strengthen Ukraine’s ability to defend itself, particularly air defense” with the supply of a Patriot missile battery, which it will train Ukrainian forces to use.
This marked the second one-on-one meeting of the two world leaders, following Zelenskyy’s visit in September 2021.
Zelenskyy became an overnight wartime hero to many as Russia invaded Ukraine, gaining recognition for his selfie videos from the capital, in which he vows to continue the fight, and for his his rebuff of a U.S. offer to evacuate him from danger, when he declared, “I need ammunition, not a ride.”
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Prior to taking office in May 2019, Zelenskyy was known for doing comedy sketches, serving as a producer and starring in movies.
Speaking to Time in April, Zelenskyy — who has two children, 17-year-old Oleksandra and 9-year-old Kyrylo, with Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska — acknowledged that he has become a “symbol,” adding that the attention is why he has been so steadfast about remaining in the country.
“You understand that they’re watching,” he tells the outlet. “You’re a symbol. You need to act the way the head of state must act.”
At 7:30 pm ET, Zelenskyy will address a joint meeting of Congress.
The Russian attack on Ukraine is an evolving story, with information changing quickly. Follow PEOPLE’s complete coverage of the war here, including stories from citizens on the ground and ways to help.