Joe Biden’s appearance in Kyiv has been praised as “historic” by a former advisor to the Ukrainian Parliament. The US President visited Ukraine’s capital on Monday under intense secrecy and toured Kyiv with counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky while air raid sirens blared.
Mykola Volkivskyi, the former advisor to the chairman of the Committee of the Ukrainian Parliament (2014-2021) and President of the First International Ukrainian Foundation of Development, told Express.co.uk what it felt like to have a sitting US President visit Kyiv during war time.
“Today’s visit of the US President to Kyiv can only be compared with Kennedy’s visit to Berlin in 1961 – “Ich bin ein Berliner” – or the historic trip with Reagan’s speech to Germany in the late 1980s,” Mr Volkivskyi told Express.co. uk.
He attended the Munich Security Conference over the weekend and believed that Joe Biden would meet Zelensky in Warsaw, where the US President will speak tomorrow.
However, when the news broke that Zelensky would not travel to Warsaw to meet Biden, Mr Volkivskyi said the mood became “doubtful”.
Instead, flying in the face of Vladimir Putin, Joe Biden met his Ukrainian counterpart in Kyiv where Russian bombs regularly rain down.
“The President of America announced to the whole world that Ukraine is an outpost of democracy in Europe and a force that has to fight against the last imperialist forces in the world,” Mr. Volkivskyi added.
He continued: “So yes, this event will go down in the history of the world’s struggle for democracy and freedom: last February, the USA evacuated its embassy abroad, and this February the President of the most powerful state in the world himself visited the capital of blood-soaked but unconquered Ukraine.”
He said that Ukrainians understood the message perfectly: “America will not back down until the Ukrainian people heroically defend their state from Russian imperial ambitions. In the future, there will only be more support, understanding, and formal integration of Ukraine into the unified architecture.” of the Euro-Atlantic security system.”
While visiting the city, Biden saw first hand the terror Ukrainians faced daily as air raid sirens blared while he visited Mikhailivska Square with Zelensky.
The pair also paid tribute to Ukraine’s dead by laying wreaths at the Wall of Remembrance in Kyiv before embracing.
Mr. Volkivskyi noted that the timing of the visit was especially significant given China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, was visiting Moscow today.
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This sentiment was echoed by Ukraine’s President, who told German Newspaper Die Welt: “If China allies itself with Russia, there will be a world war, and I do think that China is aware of that.”
During the Munich Security Conference over the weekend, both US Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken warned that China could step up support for Moscow, including delivering weapons.
Joe Biden, however, reaffirmed the West’s commitment to Kyiv and took aim at Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
“When Putin launched his invasion nearly one year ago, he thought Ukraine was weak and the West was divided,” Biden said in a statement. “He thought he could outlast us. But he was dead wrong.”
He said that he would announce further aid to Ukraine later this week including “including artillery ammunition, anti-armour systems, and air surveillance radars to help protect the Ukrainian people from aerial bombardments”.
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The US would also ramp up sanctions on Russian “elites and companies” backing Moscow’s war effort, according to the US President.
The visit comes just days before the one year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
What was supposed to be a quick operation to capture Kyiv has instead become a bloody, year-long war in the face of fierce Ukrainian opposition which has seen thousands killed on both sides.
More recently, at the end of last year, a series of counterattacks saw Kyiv’s forces reclaim huge swathes of land before the frontlines stabilized over the winter months.
With both sides appearing to prepare for spring offensives, Ukraine has continued to push its Western allies for more and higher tech equipment to counter Russian forces.