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President Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Monday

President Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Monday — his first visit to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began nearly a year ago.

Driving the news: The visit just days ahead of the one-year anniversary of the war is a major sign of U.S. support for Ukraine. Biden said in a statement he traveled to Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and “reaffirm our unwavering and unflagging commitment to Ukraine’s democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.”

  • Speaking from Kyiv, the U.S. president said: “One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands.”
  • Zelensky called Biden’s visit “a huge moment for Ukraine.”

The big picture: During the visit, Biden announced an additional half-billion dollars in U.S. assistance for Ukraine.

  • Zelensky 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.”
  • Biden was already scheduled to arrive in Poland on Tuesday morning for a trip dedicated to marking the one-year anniversary of the war, which began on Feb. 24, 2022. But his trip details regarding the Kyiv visit were kept secret due to security concerns.

What they’re saying: Delivering joint remarks with Zelensky from Kyiv, Biden said he would never forget what the Ukrainian president told him as the invasion began.

  • “You told me that you could hear explosions in the background,” Biden said.
  • “You said that you didn’t know when we’d be able to speak again. That dark night one year ago, the world was literally at the time bracing for the fall of Kyiv,” Biden said. “Perhaps even the end of Ukraine.”
  • “Russia’s aim was to wipe Ukraine off the map,” Biden said. “Putin’s war of conquest is failing.”
  • “He’s just been plain wrong,” Biden said of Putin. “One year later, the evidence is right here in this room. We stand here together.”

Speaking before Biden, Zelensky said that “this conversation brings us closer to victory.”

  • It’s a “clear signal that Russia’s attempts of relaunch will have no chance,” Zelensky added.

Behind the scenes: A Ukrainian government official told Axios that Ukraine had asked for the visit for a long time.

  • The official said it was planned in a very short time, with the highest level of confidentiality.
  • “The U.S. President’s historic visit to Kyiv is a clear signal that the U.S. will continue standing by Ukraine until its victory over Russia’s war of aggression,” the Ukrainian official added.

What to watch: Biden said that later this week the U.S. will announce additional sanctions “against elites and companies that are trying to evade or backfill Russia’s war machine.”

 

President Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Monday
President Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Monday

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