Day 362: Biden makes surprise visit to Kyiv

Biden in surprise visit to Ukraine

On Monday, February 20, U.S. President Joe Biden began his trip to Europe with a surprise and symbolic visit to Kyiv. Biden visited Ukraine for the first time since Russia’s full-scale invasion.  

Biden was scheduled to leave Washington on Monday and arrive in Warsaw on Tuesday morning. 

On Monday morning, streets throughout the center of Kyiv and around the U.S. Embassy were closed amid extraordinary security measures. A convoy of vehicles was spotted on closed-off roads, causing a speculation on social media over a possible visit of a high-level U.S. official.

Around midday, Biden’s visit was publicly confirmed. He met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi. In downtown Kyiv, they paid tribute to the fallen Ukrainian soldiers as air raid sirens blared. In Kyiv, Biden announced plans for a new assistance package to Ukraine. The presidents held one-on-one talks, and were later joined by the delegations. Biden spent five hours in Kyiv. 

First visit to Ukraine by a serving U.S. leader since 2008

In 2008, George W. Bush visited Kyiv. Neither Barack Obama, nor Donald Trump paid a visit to Ukraine. Mr. Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush, visited Ukraine just before the country declared independence in 1991. President Clinton visited Ukraine in June 2000.

The White House earlier said that Biden will only visit Poland between February 20 and 22. Biden’s aides have earlier explored attempting to covertly get Biden across the border in Ukraine but a trip has been all but ruled out, Politico said. He left Washington much earlier than officially reported. He arrived in Kyiv by train from Poland.

In Kyiv, Biden reaffirms support, pledges more weapons

On a surprise trip to Kyiv, Biden announced plans to send an additional USD 500 million in U.S. military assistance to Ukraine. The forthcoming announcement, Biden said, includes artillery ammunition, more anti-armor systems and air surveillance radars. “One year later, Kyiv stands. Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. America — and the world — stands with Ukraine,” the U.S. President said.

Biden said his trip was to reaffirm the US’ “unwavering and unflagging commitment to Ukraine’s democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity”. “When Putin launched his invasion nearly one year ago, he thought Ukraine was weak and the West was divided. He thought he could outlast us. But he was dead wrong,” Biden said in a statement. “Over the last year, the United States has built a coalition of nations from the Atlantic to the Pacific to help defend Ukraine with unprecedented military, economic, and humanitarian support – and that support will endure,” he added. 

Results of visit to be reflected on battlefield. Kyiv and Washington share same vision of prospects in war, Zelenskyi says

“This is the first visit over 15 years,” Ukrainian President Zelenskyi said during a joint press conference with U.S. President Biden. “This is really the most important visit for the whole history of the Ukraine-U.S. relationship.”

Zelenskyi said he spoke with Biden about “long-range weapons and the weapons that may still be supplied to Ukraine even though it wasn’t supplied before.”

“Ukraine is expecting a major package of military aid. It’s a clear signal that Russia’s attempts of relaunch will have no chance,” Zelenskyi added.

“We share the same vision of the future and prospects in the war,” the Ukrainian President told a joint news conference with Biden. “We also share the same vision for a lot of points of the peace formula. It is of critical importance to restore justice. The aggressor should be held to account and compensate the losses [caused by the war],” Zelenskyi said.

Ukraine urges U.S. to sanction Russia’s nuclear industry

Ukraine brought up a conversation about the sanctions on Russia’s nuclear sector and representatives of Rosatom, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said.

“A historic visit to Kyiv by a U.S. delegation led by U.S. President Joe Biden. That’s a strong signal of support to the Ukrainian people. During an expanded meeting between Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelenskyi, we brought to the table a conversation on sanctions against Russia’s nuclear sector and representatives of Rosatom,” Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal said on Telegram.

Russians go hysterical at Biden’s surprise visit to Ukraine

Biden’s surprise visit to Kyiv caught the Kremlin mouthpieces by surprise. They did not have any prepared scripts. 

Guests on a televised political show engaged in a violent verbal confrontation as they discussed Biden’s trip to the Ukrainian capital. Russia had possibly given the U.S. some kind of “security guarantees”, one of the “experts” on the show said.

Kremlin propagandist, TV host Olga Skabeyeva made furious remarks, pointing to missing security guarantees to Putin. 

Podcast Explaining Ukraine. Ukraine: history has come back | Ep. 192

What is it like to live inside history? Why was Fukuyama’s idea of “the end of history” wrong? What does history mean, and why is Ukraine important for the world’s future? Why is Russia a captive of the past, while Europe is a captive of the present – and why is this dangerous? Hosts: Volodymyr Yermolenko, Ukrainian philosopher and journalist, chief editor of, and Tetyana Ogarkova, Ukrainian scholar and journalist, in charge of international outreach at the Ukraine Crisis Media Centre.

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