Diplomacy behind Biden’s surprise visit to Kyiv nearly one year after russia’s invasion


On Monday, U.S. President Joe Biden made an unexpected visit to Kyiv prior to his planned trip to Poland, four days before the first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Despite objections from the Secret Service and the Pentagon, Biden arrived in the besieged capital after a covert operation that involved a 10-hour train journey from the Polish border. Many individuals congregated in Heaven’s Hundred Square, which was surrounded by military and police officials, to catch a glimpse of Biden.

Air raid sirens were sounded throughout the capital as Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky departed from St. Michael’s Cathedral in central Kyiv. During a press conference on Monday, Zelensky stated, “This is the most significant visit in the entire history of the Ukraine – U.S. relationship.”

Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, reported that  The White House alerted russian officials that Mr. Biden would be traveling to Kyiv several hours before he arrived in Ukraine, in an effort to “deconflict” with russian military forces operating in the country.

Biden has long emphasized that his administration’s support for Ukraine is critical to revitalizing both U.S. relations with Europe and the liberal international order.

Diplomats regard this unexpected visit as a clear sign of the U.S. support for Ukraine. In a White House press statement issued on Monday, Biden said his visit aimed to “reaffirm our unwavering and unflagging commitment to Ukraine’s democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.”

“When Putin launched his invasion nearly one year ago, he thought Ukraine was weak and the West was divided. He thought he could outlast us. But he was dead wrong,” said Biden about putin’s attack on Ukraine.

“Russia’s aim was to wipe Ukraine off the map. Putin’s war of conquest is failing. Russia’s military has lost half the territory it once occupied,” said Biden in his press conference on Monday.

Diplomacy analytics say that this trip is not only aimed at the U.S. public, as maintaining domestic support for Ukraine remains essential for Kyiv’s war efforts, but also carries an ironical message that Biden had reached Kyiv before russian president vladimir putin.

The United States has been a leading provider of security assistance to Ukraine, and $500 million in additional military aid will be provided to Ukraine, together with new sanctions to crack down on entities aiding russia’s war efforts in the country.

Meanwhile, Japan promised to ‘lead the world’ in fighting russian aggression and  offered new financial support to Ukraine worth $5.5 billion, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Monday. “There is still a need to assist people whose livelihoods have been destroyed by the war, and to restore destroyed infrastructure,” Kishida said. The Japanese leader also announced that he would host a virtual meeting for G7 leaders and Zelensky on Friday, which is the official one-year anniversary of the invasion.

Steffen Hebestreit, a spokesperson for the German government described Biden’s trip as a “good signal,” but declined to comment further.

On Tuesday, putin delivered a speech to russia’s political and military elite, in which he said he would continue with russia’s year-long war in Ukraine, and gave a nuclear warning to the West.

China, in its turn, is “deeply worried” that the Ukraine conflict could spiral out of control, Foreign Minister Qin Gang said, and he called on certain countries to stop “fueling the fire” in an apparent dig at the United States. Wang YI, china’s top diplomat also announced Beijing’s plan to release its proposition on a “political settlement of the Ukraine crisis” around the first anniversary.

Oksana Salabai
Oksana Salabai
Oksana Salabai is a PhD candidate of International Relations and Diplomacy at the School of International and Public Affairs, Jilin University China. An alumnus of Ivan Franko National University of L’viv, Ukraine.


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