Biden traveled roughly 10 hours by train from neighboring Poland before reaching Kyiv and meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss the status of the relationship between their countries.
The meeting was intended to underscore America’s “unwavering support” for Ukraine in its fight against Russia. While the meeting was primarily symbolic, Biden did promise Zelensky an additional $500 million in military aid.
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The U.S. remains the largest contributor in direct aid to Ukraine by far, having already sent roughly $24 billion of military assistance alone. This exceeds all other countries combined, including the European Union. The United States has also provided tactical training and intelligence to Ukrainian forces and has rallied many of its allies to impose sanctions on the Russian economy.
The visit comes amid rising fears that China may soon begin supplying Russia with “lethal aid” and that popular support for Ukraine in the West may be dwindling. According to most experts, Russia has been planning an offensive in spring despite setbacks throughout the year.
In Moscow, Biden’s visit is already being seen as a massive embarrassment to the military and has caused many hawkish Kremlin hardliners to question Russia’s resolve.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to give a major address on Tuesday, where it is assumed that he will speak of the achievements that Russia has accomplished through what Russia refers to as its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Biden’s visit to Kyiv undeniably upstages Putin, as the Russian President must scramble to provide excuses for his domestic audience.
Russia currently controls about 18 percent of Ukraine. This territory is concentrated in the East and South of the country, consisting of the Crimean peninsula which Russia occupied in 2014, and most of the eastern Donbas region which consists of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk Provinces. Russia also controls parts of southern Ukraine, which has created a land bridge between mainland Russia and Crimea and is perceived as a vital interest for the country. Some analysts predict that controlling all of Donbas is Russia’s goal for its spring offensive.
Both Russia and Ukraine are locked in defensive positions, and large advances for either side remain unlikely for the foreseeable future. Many military analysts expect a long and protracted war, in which gains made by either side are small and costly.
Likely hundreds of thousands of both Russian and Ukrainian troops have been killed, along with thousands of civilian deaths mostly stemming from Russian air strikes.
Biden has doubled down on American support for Ukraine and has been mostly successful in rallying America’s western allies in favor of the Ukrainian cause.
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