Home / Opinion / Views /  Mint Explainer: What Biden's impromptu Ukraine visit means for the war

On February 20, US President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv, where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The visit, which took place as the Ukraine war approached its first anniversary, was intended to convey Western solidarity with the Ukrainian cause. 

Mint breaks down the significance of this event.

On Monday, President Biden was welcomed to Kyiv by his counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky. He also met other senior members of the Ukrainian leadership and visited war memorials.

Biden’s visit made him the first US President to have visited Ukraine in the past 15 years and among the few to have visited a foreign battlefield without a significant American presence.

Symbolism was an important part of Biden’s visit, which took place just days before the first anniversary of the war, which began on February 24, 2022. He also visited St. Michael’s Cathedral in Kyiv to honour Ukraine’s war dead.

According to the White House, the purpose of the US President’s visit was to “reaffirm our unwavering and unflagging commitment to Ukraine’s democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity".

Biden also announced a $500 million aid package for Ukraine. “I will announce another delivery of critical equipment, including artillery ammunition, anti-armor systems, and air surveillance radars to help protect the Ukrainian people from aerial bombardments," he said.

He also revealed that Washington would announce new sanctions against individuals and entities that aimed to help Russia evade crippling Western sanctions.

Significantly, Zelensky also briefed Biden on his plan for ending the war. The peace plan, which he unveiled last year, involves security guarantees for Ukraine from Western countries and Russia giving up territories taken from Ukraine.

The visit coincides with a new Russian offensive that seeks to retake territories in Ukraine’s Donbas region. The fighting has raged on for some weeks now. As such, Biden’s visit sends an important message about continued Western support for Ukraine’s war effort.

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