Biden makes surprise Kyiv visit ahead of Ukraine invasion anniversary


KYIV – US President Joe Biden made an unannounced visit to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Monday, days before the first anniversary of Russias full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

An air raid siren blared across the Ukrainian capital as Mr Biden visited Kyiv but there were no reports of Russian missile or air strikes.

Mr Biden was spotted outside the St Michael Golden-Domed Monastery with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on a square in central Kyiv where burnt-out Russian tanks have been placed.

He arrived in Kyiv after a train ride from near Ukraines border with Poland.

The Ukrainian capital Kyiv was in a tight security lockdown with traffic halted in some streets.

MrBiden said in Kyiv the US would stand with Ukraine as long as it takes. US President Joe Biden outside the St Michael Golden-Domed Monastery with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday. PHOTO: REUTERS He added that Washington will provide Kyiv with a new military aid package worth US$500 million (S$670 million).

Mr Biden said the package would be announced on Tuesday and that Washington would also provide more ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (Himars) in Ukraines possession.

Your visit is an extremely important sign of support for all Ukrainians, Mr Zelensky said.

In a speech, Mr Biden commended Ukraines courage during the war and noted that he had visited Kyiv six times when he had earlier served as vice-president.

I knew I would be back, he said.

The visit to Kyiv was conducted covertly because of security concerns, with Mr Biden departing Washington without notice after he and his wife had a rare dinner out at a restaurant on Saturday night, US media reported.

The Biden administration has provided some US$30 billion in security aid since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent Russian forces into Ukraine on Feb 24, 2022 for what he maintains is a special military operation.

Mr Bidens visit came a day before Mr Putin was due to make a major address, expected to set out Russias aims for the second year of the invasion.

The anniversary has taken on more than symbolic significance, becoming what the West views as motivation for the wars deadliest phase as Moscow hurls thousands of conscripts and mercenaries into a winter offensive.

Russia has secured only scant gains so far in assaults in frozen trenches up and down the eastern front in recent weeks.

Kyiv and the West see Russias heightened assault as a push to give Mr Putin victories to tout a year after he launched Europes biggest war since World War Two. REUTERS Embed Twitter Tweet URL More On This Topic Biden to send message to Putin in Ukraine war anniversary speech Russia accuses US of inciting Ukraine to escalate war