Washington: US President Joe Biden undertook a hazardous five-hour visit to Kyiv on Monday risking further deterioration in ties with Moscow & Beijing, who have drawn closer in recent weeks even as Washington & its allies have stepped up support & aid to Ukraine. Asserting “unwavering commitment“ to Kyiv, Biden pledged $500 million in additional assistance to the embattled country from a US money spigot that most Americans are finding hard to keep track of. The White House said the package includes artillery ammunition, anti-armor systems, & air surveillance radars “ to help protect the Ukrainian people from aerial bombardment.
“The US will stand with the Ukrainian people for as long as it takes,” Biden said, adding, “Kyiv has captured a part of my heart”. But it turns out what Protected Biden in Kyiv, where air raid sirens went off even as he emerged from a historic cathedral with Ukraine’s President Zelensky, was last-hour direct communication with Moscow about his impending visit.
Amid much scheduling subterfuge that involved misleading all but a few close aides, Biden left Washington on Sunday- even as the White House schedule showed him still in the US Capital. – & flew to Poland where he was to arrive on Tuesday. He then made an unscheduled 10-hour train journey to Kyiv from the Polish border.
US officials said the White House alerted Russia to Biden’s visit just hours before he entered Ukraine in order to “deconflict “ the situation. As it turned out, there was a hairy moment during the holiday when air raid sirens sounded, reportedly prompted by a Russian Mig-31 fighter jet detected taking off in Belarus. A spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force was quoted telling reporters in Kyiv that the jet was equipped with a Kinzhai hypersonic missile that Ukraine does not have the capacity to shoot down. In Moscow, Russian commentators said the Kremlin had shown magnanimity in not carrying out an attack while the US president was there while suggesting that Biden’s bravado was aimed at impressing the domestic audience in America.