President Joe Biden makes a surprise visit to Ukraine
United States President Joe Biden made an unexpected visit to Ukraine this week. His visit is almost one year on from the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
President Biden expressed his ongoing support for Ukraine, pledging new military aid worth $500 million. He said this military aid package will include anti-armour systems, anti-surveillance radars and artillery ammunition “to help protect the Ukrainian people from aerial bombardments.”
Speaking to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, President Biden said, “Freedom is priceless. It is worth fighting for as long as it takes. And that’s how long we’re going to be with you, Mr President. As long as it takes.”
Biden added, “One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands.”
Further sanctions for Russia
President Biden stressed that the United States would continue to support Ukraine and further sanctions would be announced this week against Moscow and companies trying to bypass sanctions to “back the Russian war machine”.
Addressing the media in Kyiv, President Biden said, “The cost that Ukraine has had to pay is extraordinarily high. Sacrifices have been far too great.”
However, Reuters reports that Biden did not refer to fighter jets, which Ukraine has been requesting from Western allies to help in its war effort.
First United States visit to Ukraine for 15 years
Commenting on the visit from President Biden, Volodymyr Zelensky said, “This visit of the US president to Ukraine, the first for 15 years, is the most important visit in the entire history of Ukraine-US relations.”
This trip comes at a time when Russia is believed to be preparing for a ‘spring offensive’ and Ukraine is hoping to retake territory. President Biden walked alongside Volodymyr Zelensky around St Michael’s Cathedral in Kyiv, with the sound of air raid sirens ringing through the city. Both leaders laid wreaths at the Wall of Memory for Ukrainian soldiers killed fighting Russia.
Western nations have provided tanks, arms and ammunition to Ukraine to aid its war effort. This visit brings a powerful message of American support for President Zelensky, who has tirelessly rallied for global support and assistance.
Journeying to Ukraine one day ahead of a planned speech by Vladimir Putin to mark the one-year anniversary of the war, CNN News referred to this visit from the American President as “highly symbolic”. Speaking to reporters in Kyiv, President Biden said Putin’s “war of conquest is failing.”
“Putin thought Ukraine was weak and the West was divided,” he added, while standing beside President Zelensky. “He thought he could outlast us. I don’t think he’s thinking that right now.
“One year later, the evidence is right here in this room. We stand here together.”
Other world leaders have visited Ukraine
President Joe Biden’s visit to Ukraine follows those of European leaders including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, as well as former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who have all travelled to the country to show their support.
At this one year time-point, President Biden clarified his reasons for visiting Ukraine. “I thought it was critical that there not be any doubt, none whatsoever, about US support for Ukraine in the war,” he said.
Biden added that there was overall support for Ukraine in Washington. “For all the disagreement we have in our Congress on some issues, there is significant agreement on support for Ukraine,” he commented.
“It’s not just about freedom in Ukraine… It’s about freedom of democracy at large.”