Biden pledges $500m military aid during Kyiv visit


President Joe Biden made an unannounced visit Monday to Ukraine to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky, a gesture of solidarity that comes days before the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of the country.

Biden delivered remarks and met with Zelensky at Mariinsky Palace to announce an additional half-billion dollars in US assistance and to reassure Ukraine of American and allied support as the conflict continues.

The US leader recalled the fears nearly a year ago that Russia’s invasion forces might quickly take the Ukrainian capital. “One year later, Kyiv stands,” Biden said, jamming his finger for emphasis on his stand decorated with the US and Ukrainian flags. “Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. The Americans stand with you and the world stands with you.”

The Ukraine visit comes at a crucial moment in the war as Biden looks to keep allies unified in their support for Ukraine as the war is expected to intensify with both sides preparing for spring offensives. Zelensky is pressing allies to speed up delivery of pledged weapon systems and is calling on the West to deliver fighter jets to Ukraine — something that Biden to date has declined to do.

Zelensky said he and Biden spoke about “long range weapons and the weapons that may still be supplied to Ukraine even though it wasn’t supplied before.” But he did not detail any new commitments.

Biden’s mission with his visit to Kyiv — and then Warsaw — is to underscore that the United States is prepared to stick with Ukraine “as long as it takes” to repel Russian forces even as public opinion polling suggests that US and allied support for providing weaponry and direct economic assistance has started to soften.