The White House provided Russian officials with advance warning that President Biden would be traveling to Ukraine to mark the approaching anniversary of Russia’s invasion to avoid escalating tensions, administration officials said Monday.
“We did notify the Russians that President Biden would be traveling to Kyiv. We did so some hours before his departure for deconfliction purposes,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.
Sullivan did not detail how Moscow responded to the news, and officials were careful in sharing other details about the planning around Biden’s trip for security reasons.
Biden arrived in Kyiv on Monday in a show of support for Ukraine in its ongoing fight against Russia. It marked Biden’s first trip to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began. He spent roughly five hours in the capital city, meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and delivering remarks on U.S. support.
“One year later, Kyiv stands,” Biden said. “And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. The Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you.”
While the visit could risk increasing tensions between the U.S. and Russia, White House officials and Biden made clear the show of support for Ukraine was critical as the war hits the one-year mark on Friday.
“This was a historic visit, unprecedented in modern times, to have the president United States visit the capital of the country of war, where the United States military does not control the critical infrastructure,” Sullivan told reporters.
Biden is facing pressure from Kyiv and from some lawmakers at home to follow its recent offer of battle tanks with a supply of F-16 fighter jets. Some experts believe Biden needs to do more to help Ukraine win the war by proactively providing advanced equipment, rather than responding to each new Ukrainian request with lengthy deliberations.
The president on Monday announced $500 million in additional aid would be provided to Ukraine, including military assistance, though he did not provide specifics on what that would include.
Source: The Hill