In a display of strong American support for Ukraine just four days before the anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion, US President Joe Biden on Monday made a surprise visit to Kyiv, reported The Washington Post. Kyiv is no stranger to official visits, but this one is different. The fact the US president is meeting Ukraine’s leader in the heart of the capital in the middle of a full-scale conflict is significant and symbolic.
The high-risk visit, to a Ukrainian capital that has been under threat of missile attacks, signals continued commitment from the United States, the largest financial and military backer of Ukraine’s effort to repel Russians from its territory, reported The Washington Post. Biden was spotted outside St Michael Golden-Domed Monastery with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The Ukrainian capital was in a tight security lockdown with car traffic halted and even pedestrians blocked from certain streets. Shortly afterwards, an air raid siren went off in the city, reported The Washington Post. His visit was shrouded in secrecy. Biden was due to leave for an announced visit to Poland from Washington on Monday evening.
Earlier, major motorcade was spotted in Kyiv amid speculations that Biden is visiting the country. Heavy US security has been deployed near Ukraine’s border as the White House had in a statement said that Biden is heading to Poland for a two-day visit to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, returning to the region as the war enters a volatile new phase without a clear path to peace.
Biden will arrive in Warsaw on Tuesday where he will meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda, the White House said in a statement on Sunday. Biden has insisted the US will continue to back Ukraine for “as long as it takes” despite flagging support among the American public and no near-term prospect of peace talks to end the conflict, reported The Washington Post.
The Biden administration has provided some USD 30 billion in security aid since President Vladimir Putin sent Russian forces into Ukraine on February 24, 2022, initiating the largest ground war in Europe since World War II — one that already has cost his country and Ukraine hundreds of thousands of casualties. Under Biden’s leadership, the US and its NATO allies have gradually expanded the array of weaponry they have pledged to include heavy tanks.
While other world leaders have visited Kyiv to meet with Zelenskyy over the past year, and tour the war-scarred city, Biden has stayed away due to security concerns and fears about the possibility of conflict between the world’s two largest nuclear powers, sending senior aides in his place. Notably, First Lady Jill Biden made a surprise visit to Western Ukraine on Mother’s Day in May, reported The Washington Post.