US President pledges support for Ukraine, stops short of promising fighter jets
By Linda Bordoni
President Joe Biden spent over five hours in Kyiv on Monday, in a surprise visit to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people a year on from the full-scale Russian invasion.
The US president met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, at Mariinsky Palace and promised to continue to support the nation. However, he gave no details regarding Ukraine’s request for fighter jets.
The visit comes as the anniversary of the invasion, on 24 February, approaches. Standing next to Zelenskyy at a podium decorated with US and Ukrainian flags, Biden said the United States would stand with Ukraine "for as long as it takes" and praised its "heroic" fighting.
The Ukrainian government said it expects the war to intensify in the coming days and weeks, and President Zelenskyy is pressing allies to speed up the delivery of pledged weapon systems.
He is calling on the West to deliver fighter jets to Ukraine — something that Biden to date has declined to do.
What he did do In Kyiv was announce an additional half-billion dollars in U.S. assistance — on top of the more than $50 billion already provided — including shells for howitzers, anti-tank missiles, air surveillance radars, and other aid, but no new advanced weaponry.
On his part, Zelenskyy said he and Biden spoke about “long-range weapons and the weapons that may still be supplied to Ukraine” and described the negotiations as “very fruitful.”
Air sirens howled over Kyiv during the encounter and the two men laid wreaths and held a moment of silence at the Wall of Remembrance honouring Ukrainian soldiers killed since 2014, the year Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and Russian-backed fighting erupted in eastern Ukraine.
Thousands of Ukrainian troops and civilians have been killed, millions of refugees have fled the war, and Ukraine has suffered tens of billions of dollars of infrastructure damage.
As he set off for Warsaw for a three-day scheduled visit to Poland, Biden pledged long-term support for Ukraine, while EU foreign ministers met in Brussels to discuss ammunition deliveries for Ukrainian armed forces.
Meanwhile, the White House would not go into specifics but said that “basic communication with the Russians had occurred to ensure deconfliction” shortly before Biden’s visit in an effort to avoid any miscalculation that could bring the two nuclear-armed nations into direct conflict.
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