POTUS meets Zelenskyy in surprise, first visit to Ukraine since Russian invasion

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On Monday, President Biden met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a surprise visit to Ukraine, his first since Russia invaded the country nearly a year ago.

The unannounced meeting in Kyiv lasted more than five hours and took place a day after the White House said Biden wouldn’t go to Ukraine when he makes a scheduled trip Tuesday to nearby Poland.

During his visit to the Ukrainian capital, Biden voiced support for the war-afflicted country and announced an additional $500 million in military aid.

“One year later, Kyiv stands,” Biden said after visiting Mariinsky Palace, the official residence of the Ukrainian president. “And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. The Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you.”

The trip is Biden’s first to a war zone since he began his presidency more than two years ago. The U.S. only informed Ukraine of Biden’s visit shortly before he left, citing “deconfliction purposes,” the White House said Monday.

The U.S. had already given $50 billion to the Ukrainian efforts. Monday’s contribution doesn’t include new advanced weaponry, but Zelenskyy said he and Biden discussed “long-range weapons and the weapons that may still be supplied to Ukraine even though it wasn’t supplied before.”

“Our negotiations were very fruitful,” said Zelenskyy, who has urged allies to provide more advanced weaponry — and more quickly.

Friday marks one year since Russia’s invasion. Biden stressed the importance of demonstrating his country’s unwavering support of Ukraine during the “brutal and unjust war,” and said Russian President Vladimir Putin was counting on the nations not sticking together.

“The cost that Ukraine has had to bear has been extraordinarily high. And the sacrifices have been far too great,” Biden said. “We know that there’ll be very difficult days and weeks and years ahead. But Russia’s aim was to wipe Ukraine off the map. Putin’s war of conquest is failing.”

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