In a move sure to make heads explode from D.C. to Moscow, President Biden has diverted from his planned state visit to Poland set for today and tomorrow to make a completely unannounced call on President Zelenskyy in embattled Kyiv, Ukraine.
This is indeed an historic occasion. While President George W. Bush visited Iraq in 2003, and Obama traveled to Afghanistan in 2014, this is the first time, in my estimation, that an American President has set foot in a nation involved in a war in which the U.S. is not directly a combatant, and where their enemy has landed missile strikes as recently as earlier this week.
“WARSAW — President Joe Biden made a surprise and historic visit to war-torn Ukraine on Monday, a show of support and solidarity with a democratic nation battling for its survival after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded nearly a year ago.
The visit, including a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, was kept under tight secrecy until Biden’s arrival.
“Unchecked aggression is a threat to all of us,” Biden said. “One year later, Kyiv stands and Ukraine stands. Democracy stands, Americans stand with you and the world stands with you.”
“Kyiv has captured a part of my heart,” he added.”
As it has mine, Mr. President and those of many of our fellow countrymen.
Still, there is significant opposition to our support of Ukraine, especially among House Republicans, who complain about the cost of financial and military aide to Kyiv ahead of anticipated battles of our own over raising the debt ceiling.
Perhaps this is why Biden has decided to make his unequivocal support clear ahead of his trip to Warsaw.
“Biden’s appearance in Ukraine is a strong statement that the U.S. stands with Zelenskyy despite growing pressure at home to downsize American aid.
“Joseph Biden, welcome to Kyiv!” Zelenskyy posted on the social media site Telegram along with a picture of the two leaders. “Your visit is an extremely important sign of support for all Ukrainians.”
Biden visited the Mariinsky Palace, where he signed a guest book and made brief remarks alongside Zelenskyy.
Biden insisted that the U.S. will remain steadfast in its support of Ukraine.
“For all the disagreement we have in our Congress on some issues, there is significant agreement on support for Ukraine,” Biden said.“
The President is likely wheels up and safely on his way to Poland as I write this, but one cannot deny the physical and political courage it took for him to go to Ukraine and show his personal support for President Zelenskyy and his people.
Perhaps this tweet from the Minister of Internal Affairs for Ukraine sums up the reaction from the Ukrainian people to the President’s visit best:
President Biden in Kyiv. It is an act of incredible bravery.
It is strong symbol of support and friendship.
It is a direct and very clear signal for Putin.
Ukraine will win!
Sincere admiration and gratitude from all Ukrainians! pic.twitter.com/WExU3QGrIb
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) February 20, 2023