President Joe Biden’s administration officials confirmed, on Monday, that the White House had provided Russian officials advance warnings that President Biden would travel to Ukraine on the occasion of the approaching anniversary of the Russian invasion to avoid an escalation of tensions.
“We have informed the Russians that President Biden will travel to Kiev, and we did that a few hours before he left for deconfliction purposes,” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.
Sullivan did not detail how Moscow responded to the alert, and the administration was eager to share other details about the planning of the Biden trip for security reasons.
Biden arrived in Kiev on Monday in a show of support for Ukraine in its ongoing battle against Russia. This was Biden’s first trip to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion.
Biden spent nearly five hours in the capital, where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and delivered remarks about US support.
“One year later, Kiev stands up, Ukraine stands up, democracy stands up, Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you,” Biden said.
While the visit could risk escalating tensions between the United States and Russia, White House and Biden officials made clear that showing support for Ukraine was crucial as the war reached the one-year mark on Friday.
“This was a historic visit, unprecedented in modern times, for an American president to visit the capital of a country at war,” Sullivan told reporters.
Biden is facing pressure from Kiev and some lawmakers at home to follow up on his recent offer of battle tanks by supplying F-16 fighter jets.
And some experts believe Biden needs to do more to help Ukraine win the war by proactively providing advanced equipment, rather than responding to every new Ukrainian request with lengthy deliberations.