US President Joe Biden, from left, and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the streets of Kyiv, February 20, 2023.
Kyiv/Washington – Today's arrival of US President Joe Biden in Kyiv was kept secret until the last moment, according to CNN. Biden departed the presidential special Air Force One from the Andrews base under the cover of darkness on Sunday at a quarter to five in the morning local time. Journalists who flew with him were not allowed to take any devices with them. The White House even released a schedule for the president to be in Washington today, The New York Times noted.
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A visit to Kyiv did not figure in the public schedule of Biden's activities, and White House officials emphasized several times last week that the head of state's trip to Ukraine is not planned. But the last time the American president appeared in public was on Saturday evening, when he went to dinner in Washington with his wife Jill.
The White House then, according to The New York Times, published Biden's Monday schedule on Sunday evening, according to which he had to be president today still in Washington and to fly to Warsaw in the evening. By the time the White House published the schedule, however, Biden was already in Warsaw, from where he took the train to Kyiv.
Biden's trip to Ukraine was so closely guarded for security reasons. The current visit to Ukraine was unusual in that the US president went to a war zone over which the US has no control. According to CNN, this made it different from previous trips by American presidents to Iraq and Afghanistan.
American reconnaissance planes were monitoring Kyiv from Polish airspace today due to Biden's visit. Since this morning, the main streets in Kyiv have been closed, without the residents of the Ukrainian capital receiving an official explanation. Throughout the morning, people shared videos of long lines on streets with limited traffic.
Zelensky invited Biden to Ukraine about a year ago, when Russian forces were massing at the Ukrainian border. However, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, American officials repeatedly ruled out the president's visit to Ukraine.
Biden has already visited Ukraine several times in the past, but this is the first time since he has been president of the United States. The last time he was in Kyiv was as the US vice president in 2017.
On his current trip, he is accompanied by an unusually small number of associates, the AP agency noted. Among them are White House security adviser Jake Sullivan, White House deputy chief of staff Jen O'Malley Dillon and Biden's personal assistant Annie Tomasini. According to AP information, only two journalists also traveled with the president.
The US president spent about five hours in Kyiv, during which he announced additional US military aid worth $500 million. According to the media, Biden is to go to Warsaw from Kiev, where he will stay until Wednesday.