Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to speak in Utah on Friday

Leader is in the United States to attend the 2024 NATO Summit in Washington, D.C.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will speak in Utah on Friday during the National Governors Association’s summer meeting in Salt Lake City.

Zelenskyy will address the event on Friday morning at the Grand America Hotel, multiple sources with direct knowledge of the visit confirmed to The Salt Lake Tribune. First lady Olena Zelenskyy will also meet with business and community leaders, sources said.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy is in the United States to attend the 2024 NATO Summit in Washington, D.C.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox is wrapping up his tenure as chair of the NGA this week. On Friday afternoon, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis becomes the next leader of the nonpartisan organization. During Thursday’s opening session, Cox publicly acknowledged Zelenskyy’s visit.

“I know it’s already out there in the press, but we found out on July 4th that we were going to get President Zelenskyy here. It’s something we’ve been working on for a long time, and they moved mountains to make this happen in just a few days,” Cox said.

A spokesperson for the National Governors Association did not respond to emails seeking comment.

The meeting’s agenda has been altered to seemingly accommodate Zelenskyy’s appearance. An “armchair conversation” with Cox, Gov. Governor Jared Polis and actor Matthew McConaughey about “The Role of Culture in Polarization” was moved to earlier in the day and a “special session” was added to the agenda at the same time Zelenskyy is scheduled to speak.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Heavy trucks line the sidewalk at The Grand America Hotel as the National Governor's Association meetings begin in Salt Lake City on Thursday, July 11, 2024.

Early Thursday morning, dump trucks parked bumper to bumper lined State St. on the eastern side of the Grand America Hotel. When President Joe Biden stayed overnight at the Hotel Monaco last August, dump trucks were used to create an additional security barrier around the hotel.

Members of Utah’s congressional delegation have been invited to Friday’s event with Zelenskyy. Sen. Mitt Romney’s office says he cannot attend and a spokesperson for Rep. John Curtis says he plans to be there.

“What we are witnessing in Ukraine is indicative of the global fight being waged between authoritarianism and democracy,” Romney said in a statement. “I welcome President Zelenskyy and first lady Zelenska’s visit to Utah to speak with governors from across our country. It’s of the utmost importance to our national security that the United States continue to link arms with our friends and allies to stop Putin from having his way with Europe.”

A spokesperson for Sen. Mike Lee did not respond to say if the senator was invited or would attend.

Lee has been a vocal opponent of more U.S. funding for Ukraine’s efforts to repel Russia’s invasion that began in 2022. In recent weeks, Lee has authored two pieces of legislation that take aim at Ukraine’s possible acceptance into NATO.

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S.Res.748 says the United States should not join into an agreement with any other country to provide long-term security assistance to Ukraine. S.4649 gives the United States grounds to withdraw from NATO if the other member countries vote unanimously to accept Ukraine as a member.

(Utah House Majority via Twitter) Rep. Jordan D. Teuscher, R-South Jordan, wears traditional Ukrainian clothing as he leads the chamber in a moment of silence for Russian military aggression in Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.

In 2023, Utah Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, and Rep. Jordan Teuscher, R-South Jordan, led a humanitarian and trade mission to Ukraine. Teuscher says it is fitting to have President Zelenskyy visit the Beehive State.

“Thousands of Utahns have volunteered or donated to support Ukraine. Utah businesses have partnered with Ukrainian companies, and our nonprofits are building homes, schools, and hospitals in Ukraine,” Teuscher said in a text message. “It’s clear that Utah deeply loves Ukraine and is unwavering in its commitment to help it succeed.”

Teuscher, whose wife is Ukrainian, added he has a strong personal connection to the current conflict in Ukraine.

“I have been profoundly moved by Ukraine’s unwavering courage in the face of Russian aggression. I have seen firsthand the destruction and war crimes committed by Russia,” Teuscher said. “We cannot overstate the extreme importance of standing firmly with Ukraine and providing the necessary support to ensure that Russia’s attempts to undermine freedom and sovereignty fail. American leadership is crucial in this fight, not just for Ukraine, but for the preservation of liberty and democracy worldwide.”

He added, “I hope President Zelenskyy’s visit is fruitful in securing continued support for Ukraine, ensuring they receive the tools needed to win.”

This story is breaking and will be updated.