President Joe Biden made an unannounced trip to Ukraine on Monday, visiting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion on Ukraine.
The White House had previously denied any plans for Biden to visit Ukraine during his Feb. 20-22 trip to Poland, and then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in April that Americans “should be relieved about” Biden not going to Ukraine.
The president only made the decision on Friday after a meeting with members of his national security team in the Oval Office, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said, according to CNN.
The trip was made to “reaffirm our unwavering and unflagging commitment to Ukraine’s democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity,” the White House said in a statement.
The president travelled in secrecy by train from Przemyśl Główny in Poland, to Kyiv, Ukraine, for 10 hours through the night.
Biden met with Zelenskyy and his wife Olena Zelenska at Mariinsky Palace in Kyiv at 8 a.m. local time. (RELATED: Jill Biden Makes Surprise Trip To Ukraine)
The U.S. is “here to stay,” “we’re not leaving,” Biden told reporters while standing next to Zelenskyy and Zelenska.
In joint remarks with Zelenskyy, Biden announced a half billion dollars in additional aid to Ukraine, including artillery ammunition, javelins and air surveillance radars. He said more details about the package will come in the coming days, and will issue more sanctions on “elites and companies” that are fueling Russia’s war.
“One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands,” Biden said.
“Thank you so much for coming, Mr. president at a huge moment for Ukraine … what can I say, I really appreciate that President Biden, American society have been from the very beginning … of this war have been together with us,” Zelenskyy said.
Biden also walked with Zelenskyy near St. Michael’s Cathedral in Kyiv, and met with U.S. Embassy staff.
On Tuesday, Biden is set to meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda to discuss bilateral cooperation, and will make remarks addressing America’s leading role in providing assistance to Ukraine. The following day, Biden will meet with U.S. Embassy staff, leaders of the Bucharest Nine, a group of eastern flank NATO allies and with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, to reaffirm America’s commitment to the region and Ukraine.