President Biden lands in Kyiv for surprise visit to war-torn country ahead of first anniversary of Russia’s bloody invasion and announces $500million worth of new weapons
- Biden said: ‘One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands.’
- The U.S. president made surprise visit ahead of planned trip to Warsaw, Poland
- He said he was sending $500 million more of military assistance
Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Monday, days before the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
His visit was shrouded in secrecy and he arrived after a one-hour train journey from Poland with a stripped down traveling pool of just two reporters.
Air raid sirens blared across the besieged Ukrainian capital although there were no reports of Russian missile or air strikes.
He met with President Zelensky at the Mariinsky Palace and announced half a billion dollars in extra assistance, including artillery, ammunition, more Javelins and Howitzers, as well as more sanctions on Russia to follow.
Biden said: ‘One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands.’
US President Joe Biden is pictured alongside Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv this morning on a walkabout during his surprise visit
Zelensky welcomed Biden to Kyiv, saying: ‘Your visit is an extremely important sign of support for all Ukrainians’
The president was due to leave Washington on Monday evening for a two-day visit to Poland where he will meet Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Warsaw for discussions over a potential increase in US troops there.
In its official guidance, the White House said he would leave at 7pm on Monday evening.
Instead he was making a secret flight to see the conflict for himself.
Zelensky welcomed Biden to Kyiv, saying: ‘Your visit is an extremely important sign of support for all Ukrainians.’
He also said they spoke about new ‘long range weapons and the weapons that may still be supplied to Ukraine even though it wasn’t supplied before.’
But he did not detail any new commitments.
Biden said: ‘As the world prepares to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, I am in Kyiv today to meet with President Zelensky and reaffirm our 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.’
He said he would spend the day in talks about how best to help Ukraine in its fight.
Biden was due to leave Washington at 7pm on Monday. Instead he slipped out on Sunday evening, jettisoning most of his traveling pool of reporters, to meet Zelensky on Monday
‘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. ‘
‘And I will share that later this week, we will announce additional sanctions against elites and companies that are trying to evade or backfill Russia’s war machine.’
The war has already cost hundreds of thousands of lives, driven millions from their homes and reduced a string of cities to rubble in southern and eastern Ukraine.
Aid from the U.S., allies and partners is credited with helping dogged Ukrainian resistance defend its territories.
The U.S. alone has sent more than $100 billion of arms and aid to the country, of which The Pentagon spent $62.3 billion in the past year on weapons and ammunition as well as training, logistics, and salaries.
Yet there has been little change on the vast frontline in recent months. Now both sides are readying for offensives expected in the spring.