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'The world stands with you': Biden pledges more military aid to Ukraine on surprise Kyiv visit

Joe Biden confirmed new sanctions would be brought forward by the US against Russia.

LAST UPDATE | 20 Feb 2023

biden US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv Kyiv Independent Kyiv Independent

US PRESIDENT JOE Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv this morning to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The visit by Biden came ahead of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began on 24 February 2022.

In a statement this morning, Biden confirmed that he had arrived in Ukraine and he would “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.”

“Putin’s war of conquest is failing”.

It was the first visit by a US president to Ukraine since 2008, and Biden’s overall eighth visit to the country.

Biden confirmed that the US would be providing additional military support to Ukraine, including artillery ammunition, anti-armour systems and new air surveillance radar.

This additional military support is valued at approximately $500 million (€467 million).

He added that an additional package of sanctions against both “elites and companies” that are currently attempting to bypass existing sanctions will be rolled out.

Zelenskyy has welcomed the visit by Biden today, writing on Telegram that his visit is “an extremely important sign of support for all Ukrainians”.

Speaking at a joint press conference, Zelenskyy said that Ukraine was “fighting for the liberties of the world”.

“This is an unequivocal signal that Russian attempts to win will have no chance,” said Zelenskyy, referring to Biden’s visit.

biden-us-ukraine Biden meets with Zelenskyy at Mariinsky Palace, his official residence. AP AP

“Together we will protect our cities, our people from the terror of Russia.”

Biden told reporters that both the US and the world stands with Ukraine as the anniversary of the war approaches.

“One year later, Kyiv stands and Ukraine stands. Democracy stands,” Biden said.

The Americans stand with you and the world stands with you.

“We have every confidence that you’re going to continue to prevail.”

Biden’s visit comes days after a survey released by Rating Group found that 90% of Ukrainians have a positive attitude toward U.S. President Joe Biden and 92% of Ukrainians consider the U.S. friendly toward Ukraine.

There had been no prior indication that Biden was due to travel to Ukraine, but it follows a high-profile visit by Zelenskyy to the UK, France and Belgium earlier this month.

However, photos and videos posted on social media in recent hours have shown the US President walking the streets of Kyiv with the Ukrainian President while air raid sirens ring out in the background.

Sky News have reported that Russia was made aware of Biden’s visit several hours before his arrival in order to discourage one of the occasional missile strikes that continue to hit Ukraine’s capital.

Earlier this morning, Biden and Zelenskyy visited St Michael’s Gold-Domed Cathedral, which has long been a symbol of Ukrainian resistance.

The leaders took part in a wreath laying at the Wall of Remembrance in the city, which honours Ukrainian soldiers who have died during the war.

kyiv inepepe Biden and Zelenskyy at St Michael’s Cathedral The Kyiv Independent The Kyiv Independent

Biden later visited the US embassy in Kyiv before leaving the capital, according to a White House pool report.

He is expected to arrive in Poland tomorrow where he is due to give a major speech in Warsaw – hours after a state of the nation address by Putin in Moscow that will be largely about the conflict in Ukraine.

Additional reporting by AFP and Jamie McCarron

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