Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, days from its one-year anniversary, is the topic of two prominent speeches Tuesday as Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses his country’s parliament and U.S. President Joe Biden pledges enduring U.S. support for Ukraine.
Biden is due to speak from Warsaw, the capital of Ukraine’s neighbor Poland, a day after making an unannounced visit to Kyiv.
The White House said Biden would highlight the effort to rally world support to support the Ukrainian people and the U.S. commitment to stand behind Ukraine “as long as it takes.”
“One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands,” Biden said Monday as he spoke alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. “The Americans stand with you and the world stands with you.”
Biden announced $500 million in new aid and said there would be new U.S. sanctions against Russia this week.
The trip to Ukraine was shrouded in secrecy, which included Biden’s flight from Washington, a stopover at a U.S. military base in Germany, another flight to Poland and then a 10-hour train trip to Kyiv.
In all, Biden was in Kyiv for about five hours, spending part of his time meeting with U.S. officials at the American Embassy.
U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said later that the U.S. had alerted Russia ahead of Biden’s departure from Washington about the planned Ukrainian visit, “for deconfliction purposes” to avoid the possibility of an unintended lethal encounter between the two nuclear powers.
Unlike some previous presidential visits to war zones in years past, the U.S. does not control the airspace over Ukraine, although U.S. warplanes monitored the Biden visit from the sky over Poland.
Sullivan described Biden’s visit to Kyiv as historic, saying it was “unprecedented in modern times, to have the president of the United States visit the capital of a country at war where the United States military does not control the critical infrastructure.”
Sullivan said that despite the need to surmount logistical issues, “President Biden felt that it was important to make this trip because of the critical juncture that we find ourselves as we approach the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.”
Biden is also due to meet with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and leaders of the Bucharest Nine group of countries before departing for Washington on Wednesday. These are the countries on NATO’s easternmost flank.
Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gan in a speech Tuesday expressed deep concern about the possibility of the Ukraine conflict spiraling out of control.
“We urge certain countries to immediately stop fueling the fire,” Qin said.
The comments came a day after the United States and European Union warned Monday of unspecified consequences should China provide lethal aid for Russian forces fighting in Ukraine.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters there would be “real consequences” in U.S.-China relations and that he had shared the U.S. concerns directly with top Chinese foreign policy official Wang Yi.
“I think China understands what’s at risk were it to proceed with providing that support to Russia,” Blinken said.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters in Brussels that he had also discussed the situation with Wang Yi and asked him not to provide arms to Russia.
Borrell said such Chinese aid “would be a red line in our relationship.”
Some information for this story came from Agence France-Presse and Reuters.