US President Joe Biden makes a surprise trip to Kiev
Berlin, Washington A day before his officially announced visit to Poland is US President Joe Biden surprisingly in the Ukraine travelled. In the capital Kiev he met his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Monday.
Both commemorated the Ukrainian dead in the war Russiawhich began with the Russian attack almost a year ago on February 24, 2022.
biden announced new sanctions against Russia – and also half a billion US dollars in additional aid for the Ukraine. According to the US President, the package will include more military equipment, including artillery ammunition and howitzers.
Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the US government had informed the Kremlin about the trip in advance. For safety reasons, they stopped USA Biden’s trip secret for a long time.
Around 8:30 a.m. local time, Biden arrived at the Mariinsky Palace, where he was greeted by Zelensky and his wife, Olena Zelenska. “Thanks for coming,” Zelenski said as he shook Biden’s hand in greeting. Shortly before Christmas, Selensky had flown to Washington, on his first trip abroad since the beginning of the war.
“We’re not going” – Biden pledges further support in the Ukraine war
Biden said he wanted to reassure Selenski that the US is “here to stay.” He emphasized: “We’re not going. There must be no doubt about US support for Ukraine in the war.”
Joe Biden makes a surprise trip to Kyiv
The US President underlined that there is broad, bipartisan support for the Ukrainian resistance in Washington. “It’s not just about freedom in Ukraine. It’s about the freedom of democracy in general,” Biden said.
He played with it on part of the US Republican in Congress who want to block aid to Ukraine. The US has provided or pledged nearly $30 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since the war began.
It’s not just about freedom in Ukraine. It’s about the freedom of democracy in general. US President Joe Biden during his visit to Kiev
Public support in the United States has also fallen recently, but Biden assured: “Many have included the Ukrainian people, especially women and children, in their prayers. You can’t imagine everything from orphanages to schools being shelled. It’s barbaric.”
Long-range missiles under discussion?
The US President underlined his admiration for the people of Ukraine. “They are beyond heroic,” he said. Selenski was grateful: “This conversation brings us closer to victory.”
According to the President of Ukraine, teams from the two governments have also discussed the delivery of long-range missiles. Zelensky later added that he and Biden discussed “long-range weapons and the weapons that may be supplied to Ukraine in the future.” So far, the US has refused to supply American long-range missiles capable of penetrating deep into Russian territory. Washington wants to avoid being drawn directly into a military conflict.
Zelensky said the visit was a “clear signal that Russia’s attempts at a new offensive will not stand a chance.” Only on Friday did he appeal to the participants of the Munich Security Conference to give the Ukrainian “David” the necessary tools so that the Russian “Goliath” does not win the war.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced in Munich that Britain would be the first country to provide Ukraine with longer-range weapons. Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he was willing to provide Mig-29 fighter jets, provided other countries also supplied jets and the United States went along with it.
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Europeans are keen to keep the United States on board because American nuclear weapons provide a credible deterrent to Russia.
The United States has provided or promised roughly 10,000 military aid to Ukraine since the beginning of the war.
Shortly before Biden’s departure, US lawmakers had republican and the Democrats called on the President to authorize the use of F-16 fighter jets. “The F-16s are an absolute must,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said at the Munich Security Conference.
In Kiev, Biden now underlined that the pressure on Russia must be maintained. Western sanctions would “squeeze Russia’s economic lifelines”. Russia’s goal is “to wipe Ukraine off the map,” Biden said, but “Putin’s war of conquest is failing.” He pointed out that the Russian military has lost half of the territory it once occupied and that people are fleeing Russia “because they see no future in their country”.
Biden in Kiev: “Putin was wrong”
Russia’s economy is “isolated and suffering,” Biden said. “Putin considered Ukraine weak and the West divided,” he added. “He thought he could outlive us. I don’t think he thinks that now. He was just wrong,” Biden said of Putin. “A year later, the evidence is right here in this room. We stand here together.”
Both heads of state also visited St. Michael’s Cathedral, which with its gold dome in the center of Kiev has become a symbol of the Ukrainian resistance.
Air raid sirens could be heard across the city as Biden and Zelenski exited the church. Immediately in front of it, uniformed Ukrainian military officers lined the street. Biden and Zelensky jointly laid a wreath at the memorial wall for Ukrainian fighters killed since the war began.
During his visit to Kiev, Biden recalled that he had “warned the world that Putin would attack.” Selenski also acknowledged the leadership role of the United States. The first call came from Washington on the day the war broke out. “That will be remembered forever,” said Selenski.
Biden promises further military support
Biden told Zelenskiy that at the time, “Russian planes were in the air bringing tanks over your border. You told me you could hear explosions in the background. I will never forget that.” The US President emphasized the historical significance of February 24, 2022: “The world was about to change. You said you didn’t know when we could talk again.”
Ukraine war: “The Americans stand by you and the world too”
But even if the war is not over, there is reason for hope. “On that dark night a year ago, the world was literally preparing for the fall of Kiev. Maybe even the end of Ukraine. A year later Kyiv is standing. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. Americans are with you and so is the world.”
The US President left Kyiv around 1 p.m. local time, his security adviser Sullivan said. For security reasons, the White House was delayed in sharing information about the visit. The only American media outlets that followed Biden were the Associated Press news agency and the Wall Street Journal.
The White House spoke of an “extremely difficult preparation” for the trip. Unlike wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, in which the US was directly involved, the US would have no military presence in Ukraine. “That was a risk President Biden wanted to take,” Washington said.
If Biden travels to Poland, the US President says he wants to underline “the transatlantic unity and his iron support for our allies”. Biden had already visited Poland in March last year, shortly after the start of the war.
Biden plans talks in the Polish capital Warsaw on Tuesday and Wednesday. According to the White House, a meeting with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda and a speech in front of the Royal Castle in Warsaw are planned.
On Wednesday, Biden will meet with leaders of the so-called “Bucharest Nine,” the Nato-Countries in Eastern Europe. The group was founded in 2014 after the Russian annexation of Crimea.
More: Joe Biden’s visit to Poland could become ‘defining moment for Europe’
First publication: 2023-02-20, 12:21 p.m. (last updated: 2023-02-20, 2:40 p.m.).