US President Joe Biden arrived in Ukraine on Monday, making his first visit since Moscow launched its military operation in the neighboring state nearly a year ago.
According to reports, Biden has met with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky in the Mikhailovsky Cathedral in Kiev. Ukrainian news organizations published photos and video purportedly showing Biden and Zelensky walking towards the church flanked by armed security.
Biden said he was meeting with Zelensky to “reaffirm our unwavering and unflagging commitment to Ukraine’s democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity,” according to the statement released by the White House.
The US president added that he would announce a new delivery of “critical equipment” for the Ukrainian army, including artillery rounds, anti-tank systems, and radars. “Later this week, we will announce additional sanctions against elites and companies that are trying to evade or backfill Russia’s war machine,” Biden said.
The trip takes place as the US and other NATO members are ramping up military aid to Ukraine, having recently pledged the transfer of modern main battle tanks and other additional heavy weapons.
Biden ruled out traveling to Ukraine earlier this month, saying that he only had plans to go to Poland.
Russia sent troops to Ukraine last February, citing the need to protect the people of Donbass and Kiev’s failure to implement the 2014-2015 peace accords. The US has since then been one of Ukraine’s primary backers in the conflict.
According to the Pentagon, Washington provided Kiev with more than $27.4 billion in security aid between February 24, 2022 and January 20, 2023. The delivered weapons include HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, M777 howitzers, shoulder-fired anti-tank systems, and combat drones. The US has also pledged to transfer Bradley Fighting Vehicles and M1 Abrams tanks, and has been training Ukrainian soldiers.
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