Joe Biden`s Kiev visit: Months of planning, 10 hours train journey - Here's how POTUS' Ukraine trip was kept secret
Joe Biden`s Kiev visit: The final decision to visit the Ukrainian capital was taken during an Oval Office meeting on February 17 after months of planning.
US President Joe Biden on Monday made a surprise visit to Kiev where he met his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky just four days before the ongoing war marks its first anniversary. Zelensky shared a picture of the two leaders and said Biden's 'visit is an extremely important sign of support for all Ukrainians'. The surprise visit came as Biden travelled to neighbouring Poland to meet President Andrzej Duda. Several details have now emerged of Biden`s secret trip to Kyiv, including the banning of phones during the 10-hour-long train journey from Warsaw to the Ukrainian capital.
White House officials have described Biden`s unexpected visit to Kiev as 'unprecedented in modern times' as previous presidential trips to wartime Iraq and Afghanistan had the backup of a heavy US military presence. Biden had been scheduled to fly out from the US to Warsaw on Monday evening, for a two-day trip. The advance schedule, however, had two suspiciously lengthy gaps in his itinerary. Interestingly, reporters at the daily White House press briefings regularly inquired if Biden would make a trip to Kiev, but the replies were in negative. The final decision to visit the Ukrainian capital was taken during an Oval Office meeting on February 17 after months of planning.
On Sunday, the official White House schedule still showed the President taking off for Warsaw at 7 pm on Monday evening. In fact, Air Force One took off at 4.15 am on Sunday morning. On board was a very small team of the President`s closest aides, a medical team and security officers. Only two journalists were allowed to travel with Biden and they were sworn to secrecy. Their mobile phones were taken away and were not allowed to report the visit until after the President had arrived in Kyiv. Russia Was Informed About Biden's Trip
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According to US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Russia was notified of the visit 'only a few hours before Biden`s departure' and Washington did so 'for deconfliction purposes'.
Biden then spent 10 hours on a train to get to Kiev. Accompanying the President was his small contingent of advisers and the Secret Service. Upon his arrival in the capital city, the US President declared: "One year later, Kiev stands... And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands."
Before Biden, a host of other world leaders also visited the war-torn nation. They first began visiting Kiev in March 2022, when the Prime Ministers of Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic all arrived by train.
Then-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited April 9, followed by visits from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and then-Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Kiev on April 25 to meet Zelensky. First Lady Jill Biden paid a surprise visit on Mother`s Day last year to a small city in the far southwestern corner of Ukraine, during which she met her Ukrainian counterpart Olena Zelenska.
(With inputs from IANS)