Joe Biden Makes Surprise Visit to Ukraine as Air Raid Sirens Ring OutThe President’s Day visit into a warzone was apparently made without the usual safety precautions taken by an American commander-in-chief.
Updated Feb. 20, 2023 8:42AM ET / Published Feb. 20, 2023 4:56AM ET
Ukrainian Presidential Press Service via Reuters
Vladimir Putin never made it to Kyiv, despite spending a year and some $82 billion trying to get there.
Joe Biden arrived in ten hours on a train ride from Poland normally priced at $50 to celebrate Presidents’ Day with Voldoymyr Zelensky. Wearing his signature Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses, Amtrak Joe strolled the capital’s streets accompanied by the promise of an additional $500 million in weapons for Ukraine and the blare of klaxons warning of a possible Mig-31 jet fighter heading south from Belarus and armed with a Kinzhal hypersonic missile. The Ukrainian military has no defense against attack from hypersonic missiles.
The only explosions were back in Moscow, however, where Putin’s televised pitchmen immediately scrambled to muffle the imagery of a U.S. President forgoing the standard protective measures that normally accompany a presidential visit.
Hours before Biden’s appearance under heavy guard alongside Zelensky in Mykhailivska Square, Ukrainian officials told The Daily Beast that the city was under a complete security lockdown. The shroud of secrecy over Biden’s unannounced visit, they added, was made all the more mysterious by no visible indications of the colossal security measures taken prior to the arrival of former presidents in war-zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
Putin’s sidekick Sergei Markov told his viewers that his boss had shown generosity in not attacking Kyiv while Biden was in town, where he told the world: “Putin thought he could outlast us, I don’t think he is thinking that right now,” Biden said.” God knows what he’s thinking.
Biden had been set to deliver remarks about the ongoing conflict in Poland on Tuesday before the anniversary itself on Friday, but his high-risk excursion into Ukraine was kept secret for security reasons. Kyiv has been subjected to numerous deadly rocket barrages since the war began last February.
Biden was filmed on Monday morning walking alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky despite air raid sirens sounding throughout Kyiv. The alarm came after Russian aircraft were spotted taking off from airfields in Belarus, the Kyiv Independent reports.
The leaders were seen walking together near St. Michael Cathedral in the center of the Ukrainian capital heading toward a memorial for soldiers killed in fighting against Russia since 2014.
A senior Ukrainian official in Kyiv said Biden’s visit is in part to announce “big new arms deliveries” from the U.S. and the 54-member Ukraine Contact Group of nations.
“It looks like Biden’s 2024 presidential campaign starts in Kyiv,” another Ukrainian official said.
Biden’s trip to war-torn Ukraine looks to be the first time a U.S. President has decided to abandon the usually chiseled-in-stone safety precautions of his predecessors.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Biden made the decision to visit Kyiv on Friday, adding that Zelensky was only alerted to the plan several hours before the president’s arrival.
Shortly after Biden was first spotted in Kyiv, the Russian news agency Tass reported that Wang Yi, a senior Chinese foreign policy official, arrived in Moscow to discuss China supplying weapons and ammunition for use in Ukraine, reinforcing U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s caution that Chinese President Xi Jinping is weighing the possibility of restocking Putin’s dwindling arsenal.