US President Joe Biden makes surprise visit to Ukraine ahead of Russian invasion’s first anniversary
US president Joe Biden has been spotted in the Ukraine capital Kyiv on a surprise visit this morning.
The 46th president was filmed walking the city streets with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, ahead of the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine this Friday.
Biden and Zelenskyy visited the Wall of Remembrance of the Fallen for Ukraine, newspaper The Kyiv Independent reports, while air raid sirens sounded just before the visit became public.
On the trip Biden pledged to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes and announced a further $500m of weapons, including artillery ammunition, anti-armour systems, air defence radars, and renewed sanctions.
Zelenskyy posted a photo of the two men shaking hands in front of the US and Ukrainian flags on his Telegram account.
He wrote: “Joseph Biden, welcome to Kyiv! Your visit is an extremely important sign of support for all Ukrainians.”
Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko wrote on Twitter: “Yes, confirmed POTUS in Kyiv. Welcome Mr President! Looking forward to the announcements following the air raid sirens experience.”
Roads were closed causing traffic jams in Kyiv this morning, according to the BBC, as officials prepared for the president’s arrival.
It came ahead of a planned three-day visit to Poland where Biden is expected to meet the Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki and discuss stationing more troops in Poland.
Around 11,000 personnel are on rotation in Poland, CBS News reports, after the US ramped up its military presence in the eastern European nation ahead of Putin’s entry into Ukraine.
The visit follows a surprise visit by Zelenskyy to the UK, during which he spoke to MPs and peers in Westminster Hall and inspected Ukrainian troops training at a British military base with PM Rishi Sunak.
Zelenskyy used the visit to call for Western nations to give Ukraine fighter jets to “defend freedom”.
In a debate on the war in Ukraine in the House of Commons, foreign secretary James Cleverly said the Russian invasion was “unprovoked and illegal” and Putin could “stop it at once” by withdrawing his forces.
He stressed that despite the Russian leader’s “imperial delusions”, he “cannot and will not win” and praised the Ukrainian forces for “defending their homeland ferociously”, adding: “Freedom will win.”
Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said NATO had been “invigorated” over the past year of war and that: “Putin’s folly has been met with unity and strength.
“Ukrainians have paid a bitter price for this war but they have defended their land with courage, ingenuity and that relentless commitment that comes from a righteous cause.
“Russia stands isolated and condemned on the international stage, its economy hamstrung by severe sanctions.”
And former PM Boris Johnson told MPs Putin had been “sent scuttling” from the Kharviv region and cost the lives of at least 60,000 Russian troops.
“He’s created a new Flanders Fields of mud and trenches and blasted trees where months of high intensity shelling and bloodshed produce gains that can be measured in yards,” he said.
“The seemingly irresistible force of the Russian military is breaking on the immovable object of Ukrainian resistance and we remain lost in our admiration for the UK, for their heroism.”
But he warned that all Putin needed to do to “claim some kind of victory” was to hold onto some territory and use it as a foothold in Ukraine to destabilise the whole country.