President Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Monday, four days ahead of the one-year mark of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“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,” Biden said in prepared remarks.
Speaking alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at Mariinsky Palace, Biden said, “One year later, Kyiv stands.” He jammed his finger for emphasis on his podium decorated with the U.S. and Ukrainian flags as he spoke, adding, “And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. The Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you.”
In January, the White House had announced that Biden planned to travel to Europe—most likely Poland—to mark one year of the Ukrainian-Russian war.
Air raid sirens sounded in Kyiv’s distance when the two Presidents exited St. Michael’s Cathedral where they paid tribute to the war’s Ukrainian fallen.
In a tweet President Zelensky called Biden’s visit to Ukraine, “Historic. Timely. Brave.” He added, “I welcomed @POTUS in Kyiv as Russian full-scale aggression approaches its one-year mark. I am thankful to the U.S. for standing with Ukraine and for our strong partnership. We are determined to work together to ensure Ukraine’s victory.”
Biden’s visit comes at a crucial moment in the war as he looks to keep allies—along with the U.S. Congress and the American public—unified in their support for Ukraine as the war is expected to intensify with both sides preparing for spring offensives.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has asserted that Russia has amassed some 500,000 troops on Ukraine’s eastern border. Currently the fiercest fighting is concentrated in the east, particularly around the city of Bakhmut, where Russian offensives are already underway.
While in Kyiv Biden announced an additional half-billion dollars in U.S. assistance, including shells for howitzers, anti-tank missiles, air surveillance radars and other aid but no new advanced weaponry. That additional aid comes on top of the roughly $45 billion that was approved within the bipartisan $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package that Congress passed in December.
After the surprise visit to Ukraine, Biden was headed to Warsaw, Poland to underscore that the United States is prepared to stick with Ukraine “as long as it takes” to repel Russian forces.