The US warned the Kremlin before President Joe Biden’s surprise trip to Ukraine in order to avoid an accidental military conflict.
Russia was informed hours before Biden departed for Kyiv on Monday, ahead of the one-year anniversary of the start of President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine.
‘We did notify the Russians that President Biden would be traveling to Kyiv. We did so some hours before his departure for deconfliction purposes,’ said White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
‘Because of the sensitive nature of those communications, I won’t get into how they responded or what the precise nature of our message was, but I can confirm that we provided that notification.’
Sullivan provided no further details on how the White House notified the Kremlin or about any response back.
The airspace over Ukraine is still contested, as Ukraine, Russia and their allies have not taken control of it since Russia began its full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022.
Biden secretly left Washington, DC, on Sunday at 4.15am and flew to Poland, then rode a train for 10 hours to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky before the invasion anniversary on Friday. The US has no military presence and only embassy staff in the active war zone.
Speaking alongside Zelensky, Biden said: ‘That dark night one year ago, the world was literally bracing for the fall of Kyiv… perhaps even the end of Ukraine.
‘One year later, Kyiv stands, and Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. The Americans stand with you and the world stands with you.’
Biden announced $460million more in military aid to Ukraine.
Sullivan described Biden’s trip as an ‘affirmation’ of the administration’s commitment to continuing to back Ukraine.
‘This was not a celebration,’ Sullivan said.
Monday was the first time that Biden has gone to Ukraine since the war started. The US president has traveled to Ukraine seven times, including when he was vice president.
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