At a meeting with Zelenskyy held in the Mariinsky Palace, Vice President Joe Biden announced an additional €465 million (half a billion US dollars) in aid, on top of the more than €46.8 billion (over half a billion US dollars) already provided, including shells for howitzers, anti-tank missiles, air surveillance radars, and other aid, but no new advanced weaponry.
Ukraine has been lobbying for battlefield technologies that would enable its armed forces to strike at Russian targets that have been withdrawn from the frontline and are now out of range of the HIMARS missiles already delivered. Zelenskyy alleges that he and Biden discussed long-range missiles and weapons that may still be deployed to Ukraine despite not being provided before, but he did not provide information on any new pledges. Negotiations, as Zelenskyy puts it, “made a lot of progress.”
Zelenskyy has asked Biden to send fighter jets to Ukraine and to expedite the delivery of agreed-upon armaments, but Biden has thus far declined to do either.
While polling indicates that support for sending weaponry and direct economic help has begun to fade, Vice President Biden’s trip to Kyiv and later Warsaw is intended to emphasize that the United States is prepared to stay with Ukraine “as long as it takes” to resist Russian soldiers.
Zelenskyy is conscious of the symbolic significance of President Trump’s presence next to him on Ukrainian ground as the anniversary approaches, and he is pressuring his American and European partners to give more cutting-edge weaponry and speed up the delivery timetable.
Vice President Biden will be able to see the destruction that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has wrought on the ground during his time there. Many lives have been lost on both sides, and millions of Ukrainians have been uprooted from their homes.
For Russian President Vladimir Putin, who believed his forces would quickly capture Kyiv within days, the trip is also a show of defiance. A year after the start of the battle, the Ukrainian capital is still standing, and life has returned to a semblance of routine, but the fighting has moved to the country’s east and is now interrupted by cruise missile and drone attacks on military and civilian institutions.
Biden heard the air raid sirens that Kyiv residents had experienced for nearly a year during their tour of the gold-domed St. Michael’s Church with Zelenskyy.
They brought two flowers to lay at the Wall of Memory, which honors Ukrainian service members who have died in battle since 2014, when Russia invaded the Crimean peninsula and fighting in eastern Ukraine, backed by Moscow, broke out.
Ukrainian defenses have been bolstered by Western surface-to-air missile systems, but this is the first time such a visit has taken occurred in a conflict zone where neither the United States nor its allies have control of the skies.
It was not clear whether or not the United States had informed Moscow of the trip in advance, raising the possibility of a mistake that might lead to direct conflict between the two nuclear-armed states.
Vice President Biden’s visit poses a greater security risk than other U.S. presidential excursions to conflict zones because the United States does not have a military presence in Ukraine outside of a small number of Marines defending the American embassy in Kyiv.
months before Russia’s incursion on February 24, there were rumors that Vice President Joe Biden could visit Ukraine. As news of the president’s trip to Poland emerged earlier this month, the White House maintained its position that he would not visit Ukraine.
As a precaution, the White House briefed just a small group of advisors on Vice President Biden’s journey to Kyiv.
Silently on Sunday morning, Biden left Washington, DC’s Joint Base Andrews for Germany’s Ramstein Air Base and then on to Ukraine.
Biden has never visited a combat zone in such an official capacity before. Trump, Obama, and W., his three immediate predecessors, all made unexpected trips to Afghanistan and Iraq to speak with US troops and local officials.
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