Biden Visits Ukraine Ahead of One-Year Anniversary of Russia's Invasion
Do you support increased American aid to Ukraine?
- Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Ukraine on February 20 to pledge half a billion dollars in military assistance to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and to reiterate American support.
A surprise visit
- The trip came days before the 1-year anniversary of the war, and ahead of a planned two-day visit to Poland to meet with President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw.
- Biden took a heavily-armed 10-hour train ride to Kyiv from Warsaw for the meeting and returned to Poland immediately afterward.
- Biden and Zelensky met at Mariinsky Palace before visiting a memorial to soldiers who have died fighting since Russia originally annexed Crimea in 2014.
- Russia was informed about Biden’s trip hours before he departed for Kyiv due to “deconfliction purposes”, according to national security adviser, Jake Sullivan. Sullivan accompanied Biden to Ukraine.
- The plan has been in the works for months and is a collaboration between the Pentagon, the White House, and the U.S. security community.
What did Biden and Zelensky say?
"[O]ne year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands.”
- Biden also emphasized American support. He said,
"I thought it was critical that there not be any doubt, none whatsoever, about U.S. support for Ukraine in the war."
- Zelensky highlighted the historic importance of the meeting, saying,
"[I]t is now and in Ukraine that the fate of the world order, which is based on rules, on humanity... is being decided.”
- Andriy Yermak, Zelensky’s chief of staff, said of the visit,
"[M]any issues are being solved and those that have stalled will be accelerated."
- According to a White House statement, Biden's visit was meant to reaffirm America’s "unwavering commitment to Ukraine's democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity."
What did the U.S. promise?
- Following the visit, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced $450 million in assistance for Ukraine, including howitzer ammunition, Javelin missiles, and the Himars rocket system.
- The U.S. has announced $24.9 billion in military assistance for Ukraine since the start of the war.
- The U.S. will provide $10 million in assistance to help Ukraine maintain its energy infrastructure, which is under constant attack from Russian weaponry.
- Zelensky said that he and Biden discussed the possibility of the U.S. sending F-16 fighter jets, which the U.S. and NATO have been reluctant to approve thus far.
- Biden said that he would be announcing new sanctions against Russia at some point this week.
Russia and China's reaction
- In his state of the nation address today, Vladimir Putin warned that Russia was ready to resume nuclear testing. He said,
"Of course, we will not do it first. But if the U.S. conducts tests, we will do it as well."
- Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson of Russia’s foreign ministry, said failure was inevitable for those who "sold their souls to the Americans”.
- China’s top foreign policy advisor Wang Yi is set to arrive in Moscow this week, but it is unsure whether a meeting with Vladimir Putin is on his agenda. Wang said,
“We do not add fuel to the fire, and we’re against reaping benefits from this crisis.”
- Qin Gang, China’s foreign minister, said that China will continue to urge peace and push for a political solution to the crisis.
- Since China and Russia declared a “no-limits” friendship a year ago, politicians have been concerned about their deepening partnership.
Concern about U.S. financial support
- Polls have indicated that a growing number of Americans are worried about how much money has been earmarked for Ukraine. At the beginning of the conflict, 60% of Americans supported sending weapons. The approval rate has dropped to 48%.
- Republican Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy said there “can’t be a blank check” for Ukraine.
- Some worry about the history of corruption in Ukraine and fear that funds from American taxpayers may end up being diverted away from the war effort.
- The congressional funding package announced by Blinken has built-in funding for oversight, but Republican leaders have asked for more direct monitoring.
Do you support increased American financial and military aid for Ukraine?
— Emma Kansiz
(Photo Credit: Twitter/ Amy Klobuchar)