The White House notified Russia that President Joe Biden would be traveling to Ukraine, but kept the Monday trip a secret from Americans until Biden arrived to Kyiv.
“We did notify the Russians that President Biden would be traveling to Kyiv. We did so some hours before his departure for deconfliction purposes,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Monday.
“This was a historic visit, unprecedented in modern times, to have the president United States visit the capital of the country of war, where the United States military does not control the critical infrastructure,” Sullivan added.
Sullivan did not disclose how Russian officials, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, responded to the news.
Biden arrived in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Monday morning local time. Leading up to the visit, the White House had publicly denied that Biden would be making a stop in Ukraine during his trip to Poland to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The president was considering visiting Ukraine, but only made the final decision on Friday after consulting with his national security advisers, CNN reported.
The team trailing with Biden was “extremely small” and included “a handful of his closest aides, small medical team, photographer, and the security package,” Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer told reporters.
Biden was in Ukraine for around five hours, and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the Mariinsky Palace in Kyiv. (RELATED: Biden Travels To Ukraine Unannounced)
In joint remarks with Zelenskyy, Biden announced $500 million in additional aid to Ukraine, including artillery ammunition, Javelin missiles and air surveillance radars. More details about the package will be released in the coming days, and the U.S. will issue additional sanctions on “elites and companies” that are contributing to Russia’s war, Biden said.
“One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands,” Biden said, while speaking about the significance of the one-year anniversary of the war.
In Poland on Tuesday, Biden is set to meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda to discuss bilateral cooperation and will address America’s leading role in providing assistance to Ukraine. The following day, Biden will meet with U.S. Embassy staff, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and leaders of the Bucharest Nine — a group of eastern-flank NATO allies — to reaffirm America’s commitment to the region and Ukraine.