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28 May, 2024
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The message behind Biden's historic visit to Kyiv

The organization of the trip of the American president to the Ukrainian capital, the additional gifts to Ukraine and the messages about the unity of the West in the face of Russian aggression.

Kathimerini Greece Newsroom

"One year later, Kyiv is holding firm. Ukraine too. And the Republic is holding on."

Symbolically, it is Joe Biden who is the leader of the free world in a country under fire. After all, he said so himself to President Zelensky: "It's presumptuous of me to say this, but I thought it was important that the President of the United States be here on the anniversary of the beginning of the attack."

How the visit was planned

His plane left, in secret, shortly after 4 a.m. from Washington. On Air Force One, according to the New York Times, there were a handful of journalists - sworn to secrecy and even deprived of their phones - along with Jake Sullivan, the president's national security adviser; Jen O'Malley Dillon, deputy White House chief of staff; and Annie Tomassini, the Oval Office director.

A U.S. official, who asked not to be named, according to the NYT, confirmed that, after the transatlantic flight to Poland, Biden crossed the border by train, traveling for nearly 10 hours to Kiev, as have other U.S. officials in recent months, because flights in the war zone are not safe.Biden in Kiev – The background and messages of a historic visit-1

Journalists accompanying Joe Biden were embargoed from publishing any information until the US president arrived in the Ukrainian capital - the city Vladimir Putin said he would take over in three days.

Kyiv welcomed the US president as the sirens of aerial bombardment sounded. The tragic war scene in the Ukrainian capital reminded the rest of the world that Ukraine is under fire from the Russians on all sides, yet the West is there - the leader who has supported the Ukrainians from the very beginning, it is time to be 'between the fires'.

With an eye to the interior as well

Of course, Joe Biden had his own audience - and the domestic political scene - in mind. On the one hand, support in American public opinion for massive aid to Ukraine is waning. According to a recent Associated Press-NORC poll, 48% of Americans are in favor of providing arms to Ukraine, down from 60% last May.

On the other hand, the balance in the House of Representatives is shifting, with Republicans holding the reins and the House has the final say. The growing and growing voices want a rebalancing - at best - of support for the Ukrainian people.

It is worth noting that, since the start of the Russian invasion, Congress has so far approved $113 billion in military and economic aid to Ukraine.

According to the American president himself: "Despite all the disagreements in Congress on some issues, there is considerable unanimity in support of Ukraine. It's not just about Ukraine's freedom. It is about freedom of democracy in general."Biden in Kiev – The background and messages of a historic visit-2But the US is not stopping aid and Joe Biden seems unyielding in his support for Kyiv. He promised another $500 million in military hardware in the coming days, citing ammunition, Javelin and Howitzer missiles, but without mentioning the advanced weapons Ukraine has requested.

History, of course, has shown that in the last year, many taboos have been broken regarding the kind of military aid the West is providing Kyiv. As long as Russian aggression persists - with dubious results so far - the free world will arm its new borders. Even Olaf Scholz's Germany has realized this, with the familiar delay and moral reluctance.

At the same time, the US President has promised a new package of sanctions against Russia, which Europe will do anyway, as announced by the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, a few days ago.

President Zelensky and Ukrainian officials, however, were in a mood of euphoria today, as the mere presence of Joe Biden - a few hundred kilometers from the front line - is not only a gift-bearer but also puts Ukraine in the chorus of Western countries committed to freedom and democracy.

After all, according to Politico, Ukrainians "have been seeking this visit for a long time." The official quoted by the website added that the visit had been prepared "in a very short time", about a week, "with the maximum level of secrecy through the lines of communication of the Ukrainian foreign minister and deputy foreign minister".

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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