On February 20, 2023, President Joe Biden traveled to Kyiv, Ukraine. The trip was a surprise with few people knowing of the visit. Biden’s presence in Ukraine highlights the one-year anniversary since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
Biden released an official statement regarding his travel to Kyiv. “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,” he said in a White House release.
Russia was notified of Biden’s visit. “We did notify the Russians that President Biden would be traveling to Kyiv. We did so some hours before his departure for deconfliction purposes,” said National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan during a press briefing. Planning for the trip took months and the number of people who knew of it was kept as small as possible.
Air Force departed early on Sunday morning and flew to Germany where it refueled at Ramstein Air Force Base. From there, Biden flew to Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport in Poland where he transferred to a train for the 10-hour journey to Kyiv. During his time in Ukraine, Biden met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the two discussed the continued supply of war materiel including artillery shells, anti-armor systems, and air surveillance radars. Biden also met with religious leaders and visited a memorial to fallen defenders of Ukraine.
After his visit, Biden returned to Poland via train. There, he is scheduled to meet with President Andrzej Duda and other European leaders to discuss continued support for Ukraine. Biden’s trip to Ukraine is a powerful demonstration of America’s criticism of Russia’s invasion. It follows Vice President Kamala Harris’ announcement at the Munich Security Conference just days earlier that the United States has determined that Russia has committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine.