Biden met with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who said he and the U.S. president discussed the supply of long-range weapons for Kyiv.
Biden’s visit comes as polls show U.S. support for Ukraine, is the singular issue that draws broad support from Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Polling also indicates that Republican leaders, such as Senator Josh Hawley (R-M.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky), along with several others, hold an unpopular view to end aid to Ukraine.
The U.S. is bound by treaty to assist Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion of the country. The U.S. Senate in the 1990s approved an agreement with Ukraine to defend it against Russia if Ukraine would voluntarily give up its cold-war era nuclear arsenal. The treaty was signed by then-President Bill Clinton. Ukraine gave up hundreds of nuclear warheads but the U.S., under Barack Obama, and Europe failed to assist it during Russia’s first invasion and occupation of Crimea in 2014. Observers say that inaction gave Russia the confidence, and time, to attack Ukraine in 2022.
The Biden administration is apparently making good honoring that treaty as Russian forces continue to be pummeled. Putin’s military has seen over 100,000 troops killed with some estimates that up to 270,000 have been killed or wounded, according to Forbes.
The U.S. president pledged an additional half-billion dollars in aid and vowed that the United States would continue to stand by Ukraine in the conflict.
“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,” Biden said in a statement.
Biden’s visit comes a day before Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to make a major address, in which he’s expected to lay out Moscow’s objectives for the second year of what he calls a “special military operation.”
Putin has long argued that Moscow’s actions are a kind of preemptive strike taken in self-defense to neutralize a growing military threat by Ukraine.
The Kremlin claims Western powers led by the United States have sought to establish as a NATO bulwark on Russia’s borders.
At a joint press conference in Kyiv, Biden recounted the early days of the invasion and fears at the time that the invasion might spell the end of Ukraine.
“One year later, Kyiv stands, and Ukraine stands,” Biden said. “And America stands with you, and the world stands with you.”
“This is the largest land war in Europe in three-quarters of a century and you’re succeeding against all and every expectation except your own,” Biden said, adding that he has “every confidence you’re going to continue to prevail.”
Biden announced in addition to the half-billion dollars in aid to Ukraine, howitzer shells, anti-tank missiles, air surveillance radars, but no new advanced weaponry that Kyiv has been seeking.
Ukrainian leaders have repeatedly called for Western powers to provide fighter jets. On the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference several days ago, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba reiterated his appeal for the jets.
The West has been reluctant to send fighter jets into the conflict zone, fearing an escalation that might spill across the border into NATO-allied countries and potentially trigger the alliance’s Article 5 provisions that an attack on one is considered an attack on all. Critics of the failure to provide jets, though, point out that the U.S. and its allies are involved in the war in Syria and the U.S. supplies jets and arms to other nations like Saudi Arabia that are also involved in armed conflict.
Zelenskyy said at the joint press conference that 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,” though he did not go into details.
Biden’s visit to Kyiv comes ahead of a scheduled trip to Warsaw, Poland, which has been a major supporter of Ukraine in the conflict and which serves as a key hub for supplying weapons and other aid.
Biden’s trip to Kyiv marks his first visit to a war zone as president. Unlike previous presidents, including Donald Trump, Biden failed to visit the troops in Afghanistan before the disastrous U.S. retreat.
–Metro Voice and wire services