US President Joe Biden arrived in Ukraine on Monday under the strictest security measures. With the presidential plane from Washington, Biden arrived in the capital Kiev on Monday morning – just a few days before the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against the neighboring country this Friday marks the first anniversary. Together with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy he commemorated the fallen Ukrainians. He also announced further military aid to Ukraine and new sanctions against Russia.

Despite the air alert, the two heads of state walked through the city together. This is Biden’s first visit to Ukraine since the war began. The US President praised the will to defend the people there. “A year later, Kiev is standing. And Ukraine is standing. Democracy is standing.” According to US journalists who had traveled with him, he added: “The Americans stand with you and the world stands with you.” Selenskyj spoke of an “extremely important sign of support for all Ukrainians”. He also said: “This conversation brings us closer to victory.”

Biden: Putin “was just completely wrong”

In a joint statement with Zelenskyj in the Marien-Palast, Biden also addressed Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Putin thought that Ukraine was weak and that the West had different opinions,” reported US reporters who had traveled with him. “He was just completely wrong. You can see the proof in this room a year later. We stand together.”

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022 and has been waging a brutal war of aggression ever since. In recent weeks there has been speculation that Biden could combine a trip to Poland announced for Tuesday with a visit to Ukraine. The White House has repeatedly stated that this is not planned. However, high-level trips to crisis areas are usually kept secret until the last moment.

Biden’s message: We are here for you

At his meeting with Zelensky, Biden announced another half-billion-dollar aid package for Kiev, according to a small pool of reporters traveling with him. Details should follow. The US President also announced that there would be further sanctions against Russia later in the week. Here, too, he initially gave no details. At the same time, the EU foreign ministers in Brussels discussed new punitive measures.

A late visit

Numerous heads of state and government as well as ministers from other countries had already visited Ukraine in the past months since the beginning of the war – some several times. Government members from the USA were also there, as was Biden’s wife Jill. As president, Biden had never been to Ukraine before. It generally has significantly higher security requirements.

The fact that he is now planning his visit just before the first anniversary is highly symbolic – as a sign of support for the most important and powerful ally. In the past few months, the Americans had launched various packages of weapons and ammunition worth billions in rapid succession. According to the Pentagon, they have provided or pledged nearly $30 billion in military assistance since the war began. This also includes various heavy weapon systems.

Biden and his government have pledged to support Ukraine in the long term – as long as it is necessary. The US government headquarters also issued this as the core message for Biden’s visit to Poland. Now he delivered them personally in Kiev.

A long-distance duel between Biden and Putin

Biden plans talks in the Polish capital Warsaw on Tuesday and Wednesday. According to the White House, a meeting with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda and a speech in the early evening in front of the Warsaw Royal Castle are planned. On Wednesday, Biden also wants to meet with representatives of other Eastern European NATO countries.

For his speech in Warsaw, Biden not only chose a special historical location with the Royal Castle: The castle is considered a symbol of the city that was largely destroyed by Nazi Germany in World War II and later rebuilt. Biden also picked a special timing. Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to address the Russian nation with a speech on Tuesday. The two political adversaries are engaged in a kind of long-distance duel.

The US President last visited Poland at the end of March 2022, around a month after the outbreak of war in Ukraine. Even then, Biden had given a well-received speech in front of the Royal Castle in Warsaw. In it he assured Ukraine’s support and sharply attacked Putin. At the time, a statement by Biden about Putin caused a stir, which the White House later put into perspective: “For God’s sake, this man can’t remain in power.” The US government headquarters later made it clear that Biden had not called for Putin’s overthrow.