U.S. President Joe Biden made an unannounced visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion, according to The New York Times.
Biden had been expected to visit Warsaw, Poland this week, but instead traveled to Ukraine first to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Biden was headed to Warsaw Monday after his visit to Ukraine.
An American official, who asked not to be identified, confirmed to the Times that after a trans-Atlantic flight to Poland, Biden crossed the border by train, traveling for nearly 10 hours to Kyiv.
Under clear blue skies, President Biden walked into downtown Kyiv with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine just as an air-raid alarm wailed.— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 20, 2023
Biden said he was in Kyiv on a surprise visit to discuss additional U.S. support for Ukraine.https://t.co/L2Dftje5E5 pic.twitter.com/5PotkPc66D
Biden said he was in Kyiv to discuss additional U.S. support for Ukraine. “I will announce another delivery of critical equipment, including artillery ammunition, anti-armor systems, and air surveillance radars to help protect the Ukrainian people from aerial bombardments,” he said in a statement.
Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of the country.
Biden took a motorcade through streets that had been cleared of any local traffic to Mariinsky Palace, where he was greeted by Zelensky, wearing his signature black sweatshirt with dark green pants and beige boots.
According to press pool reports, Zelenskiy spoke first thanking Americans for their support, saying that when the war started the first phone call of support he got was from the White House.
Biden then said it was important for the president of the United States to be in Ukraine on the anniversary of the Russian invasion, and that it’s critical that there not be any doubt, none whatsoever, about US support.
“For all the disagreement we have in our Congress on some issues, there is significant agreement on support for Ukraine. It’s not just about freedom in Ukraine, it’s about democracy at large.”
“One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands,” Biden said.
Biden and a large security detail were escorted by Zelenskiy, on a walkabout around central Kyiv as air sirens could be heard, according to The Guardian.
According to the White House, Russian officials were alerted to Biden’s visit to Kyiv.
As air raid sirens sound, President Joe Biden tours the streets of Kyiv with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy https://t.co/vRqlhZHP9k pic.twitter.com/z7zHrBTgTA— Bloomberg (@business) February 20, 2023
Speculation has been building that Biden would visit Ukraine around the Friday anniversary of the Russian invasion, The Associated Press reported. However, the White House repeatedly said that no presidential trip to Ukraine was planned.
According to The Washington Post, Biden was due to depart Washington Monday evening for Poland, where he was expected to meet with European officials and restate U.S. support for Ukraine as the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion nears.
Instead, he appeared to have traveled earlier than planned, given that he arrived in Kyiv early morning Washington time, the Post reported.
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.— President Biden (@POTUS) February 20, 2023
Biden’s visit comes one day before Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to make a state of the nation address in Moscow.
Check back for more on this developing story.
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