One year on: Joe Biden makes surprise visit to Ukraine in show of support

Zelenskyy said he and Biden spoke about "long-range weapons and the arms that may still be supplied to Ukraine even though it wasn't supplied before

Agencies Kyiv
US President Joe Biden with Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy

US President Joe Biden with Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy at St Michael’s Golden-Domed Cathedral in Kyiv | PHOTO: REUTERS

U S President Joe Biden paid an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Monday to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a defiant display of Western solidarity with a country still fighting what he called “a brutal and unjust war” days before the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion.
“One year later, Kyiv stands,” Biden declared after meeting with Zelenskyy at Mariinsky Palace. “And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. The Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you,” he added. Biden spent more than five hours in the Ukrainian capital, consulting with Zelenskyy on next steps, honouring the country’s fallen soldiers and meeting with US embassy staff in the war-torn country.

Biden said his goal was to reaffirm his administration’s “unwavering and unflagging commitment to Ukraine’s democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.” Zelenskiy called the visit — the first by a US president in 15 years — “historic, timely and brave” and he and Biden laid a wreath at a monument to victims of the war as air-raid sirens sounded across the capital.
Biden’s mission with his visit to Kyiv, which comes ahead of a scheduled trip to Warsaw, Poland, is to underscore that the US is prepared to stick with Ukraine “as long as it takes” to repel Russian forces. For Zelenskyy, the symbolism of having the US president stand side by side on Ukrainian land as the anniversary nears is no small thing as he prods the US and European allies to provide more advanced weaponry and to step up the pace of delivery.

The visit comes at a crucial moment, when Biden is trying to keep allies unified in their support for Ukraine as the war is expected to intensify with spring offensives. Zelenskyy is pressing allies to speed up delivery of promised weapon systems and calling on the West to provide fighter jets — something that Biden has declined to do.
Zelenskyy said he and Biden spoke about “long-range weapons and the arms that may still be supplied to Ukraine even though it wasn’t supplied before.” But he did not detail any new commitments. “Our negotiations were very fruitful,” Zelenskyy added.

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The White House would not go into specifics, but national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that it notified Moscow of Biden’s visit to Kyiv shortly before his departure “for deconfliction purposes” in an effort to avoid any miscalculation that could bring the two nuclear-armed nations into direct conflict.
“I thought it was critical that there not be any doubt, none whatsoever, about US support for Ukraine in the war,” Biden said.

Zelenskyy urges China to keep pragmatic stance

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he has directly appealed to China not to support Russia’s war effort and called on Beijing to maintain a “pragmatic attitude” and help avert a wider global conflict.
“Our relationship with China has always been very good, we have had intense economic relations for many years, and it is in everyone’s interest that they do not change,” Zelenskyy was quoted as saying in Italian newspapers ahead of a visit to Kyiv by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expected soon.
US announces $500-mn military aid for Ukraine

US President Joe Biden promised new military aid for Ukraine worth $500 million during a surprise visit to Kyiv on Monday, almost a year to the day since Russia’s invasion. Biden also said additional sanctions would be announced this week against the Russian elite and companies trying to evade sanctions to “back the Russian war machine”.
The military aid package will include artillery ammunition, anti-armour systems, and air surveillance radars “to help protect the Ukrainian people from aerial bombardments,” he said. “The cost that Ukraine has had to pay is extraordinarily high. Sacrifices have been far too great,” Biden told reporters in Kyiv. (Reuters)

EU weighs new powers to hit Russia’s helpers
A group of European Union (EU) member states is pushing for the bloc to ramp up its ability to hit back against those helping Russia circumvent sanctions, including through the use of trade measures.  The new powers may include issuing warnings to people or companies outside and in the EU that are helping Russia get around sanctions and giving the bloc the ability to act where this relates to products used against Ukraine in battle. The EU has proposed that banks and other institutions report sanctioned Russian assets they hold as part of a new package of instruments the bloc aims to approve this week. (Bloomberg)

First Published: Feb 20 2023 | 11:32 PM IST

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