[guest post by Dana]
What a surprise, and a fine one at that. Rather than meeting with President Zelensky someone on the border with Poland or skipping it altogether, President Biden met with Ukraine’s president in the capital city of Kyiv, thus sending a message to the world – and especially to Vladimir Putin – that the United States will continue to support Ukraine in its battle to defeat Russia. This is especially notable given that there was obviously a real risk in the visit (as the AP informs us: The U.S. president traveling to a conflict zone where the U.S. or its allies do not have control over the airspace and on top of that, our only military presence in Ukraine is just a small detachment of Marines guarding the embassy in Kyiv).
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 Zelenskyy 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.
Today, in Kyiv, I am meeting with President Zelenskyy and his team for an extended discussion on our support for Ukraine. 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. 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. Over the last year, the United States has built a coalition of nations from the Atlantic to the Pacific to help defend Ukraine with unprecedented military, economic, and humanitarian support – and that support will endure.
President Zelensky’s Twitter feed has a nice video of the welcome and introductions:
Historic. Timely. Brave. 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. pic.twitter.com/EPtH3fLWWD
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 20, 2023
Details of the discussion between presidents about continued aid and weapons from the U.S.:
In Kyiv, Biden announced an additional half-billion dollars in U.S. assistance — on top of the more than $50 billion already provided — for shells for howitzers, anti-tank missiles, air surveillance radars and other aid but no new advanced weaponry.
Ukraine has also been pushing for battlefield systems that would allow its forces to strike Russian targets that have been moved back from frontline areas, out of the range of HIMARS missiles that have already been delivered. Zelenskyy said he and Biden spoke about “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.
So how did Russia react to President Biden’s visit to Kyiv? Although Moscow was notified in advance of Biden’s impending visit ( “for deconfliction purposes” ), they were less than happy about being deeply humiliated before the world:
Meanwhile in Russia: lots of long faces in the studio. pic.twitter.com/HRyNFU03pq
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) February 20, 2023
I’m glad that President Biden made the journey to Kyiv before his meeting with President Duda of Poland. His presence in the capital city standing next to President Zelensky sent a powerful statement to the world that U.S. support for Ukraine has not and will not waver as they wage a brave battle to drive out the invaders. Also, I can only imagine what a major morale booster it was for Ukrainian troops and for the Ukrainian people as well. With that, we’ll have to wait and see if the U.S. will opt to provide Ukraine with the much-needed modern fighter jets that President Zelensky has requested. EU members are considering sending them to Ukraine, and Italy has said it is prepared to “send up to five fighter jets to Ukraine if other Western allies start doing so,” they just don’t want to be the first ally to send them “for political reasons.”