Biden says he is ready to go to Ukraine

Biden says he IS ready to go to Ukraine: President hints White House is planning a high-level trip after previously telling troops he wasn’t allowed to cross the border from Poland

  • President Biden said he would like to visit the Ukraine
  • He confirmed a report his administration was looking at sending a senior official to visit war-torn Kyiv 
  • ‘We’re making that decision now,’ Biden said
  • Politico reported Secretary of State Anthony Blinken or Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are likely to go to match visits made to Ukraine by European leaders
  • Biden has said before he’d like to visit Ukraine – he was last there in 2017
  • While in Poland last month, Biden said he wanted to cross border into Ukraine but ‘they’ wouldn’t let me 

President Joe Biden said on Thursday he would like to visit the Ukraine and confirmed a report his administration is having conversations about sending a senior official to war-torn Kyiv.

‘We’re making that decision now,’ Biden said when asked if a top member of his administration would make the trip.

But when asked if he’d like to go, the president said: ‘Yeah.’

It’s not the first time Biden has expressed his interest in making such a trip. 

While visiting U.S. troops in Poland last month, Biden lamanted he couldn’t cross the border into the Ukraine, saying ‘they’ wouldn’t let him.

‘They will not let me, understandably, I guess, cross the border and take a look at what’s going on in Ukraine,’ he said. 

White House officials have pointed to the incredible security precedures that would need to be put into place for Biden to visit to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Before Biden went to Poland, White House press secretary Jen Psaki ruled out a presidential visit to Ukraine. 

President Joe Biden said on Thursday he would like to visit the Ukraine

Biden spoke with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday to talk about the latest round of military assistance the U.S. was sending

Biden confirmed a report White House was considering a high-level trip to the Ukraine match those by European leaders – Secretary of State Anthony Blinken or Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are most likely to go

The latest round of questions came after Politico reported on Wednesday that the White House was considering a high-level trip to the Ukraine match those by European leaders. 

A visit by Biden or Vice President Kamala Harris was ruled out with sources telling the news outlet that Secretary of State Anthony Blinken or Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was more likely to be tapped to go.

European leaders such as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have all visited Zelensky in the past week. 

The White House is looking to match such a trip as a show of support for Ukraine.

Biden last visited Kyiv as vice president, in January 2017 – three days before leaving office. 

It was his sixth official visit to Ukraine, where he was hoping to prevent Russia from consuming more of the country after its annexation of Crimea in 2014. 

President Bill Clinton visited Kyiv three times. George W. Bush became the first U.S. president to visit, in March 2008. 

Meanwhile, Biden spoke with Zelensky for nearly an hour on Wednesday to tell him the United States was sending another $800 million in weapons to help him fight off Vladimir Putin’s forces.  

‘I just spoke with President Zelenskyy and shared with him that my Administration is authorizing an additional $800 million in weapons, ammunition, and other security assistance to Ukraine,’ Biden said in a statement on the call.

The new round of assistance comes as Russia is beefing up forces for a new assault on Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region as it focuses its military might on that area of the country after failing to capture Kyiv. 

The new package of defensive measures includes ‘highly effective weapons systems’ that are ‘tailored to the wider assault we expect Russia to launch in eastern Ukraine,’ Biden said.

It will include artillery systems, artillery rounds, armored personnel carriers, and additional helicopters. 

‘The steady supply of weapons the United States and its Allies and partners have provided to Ukraine has been critical in sustaining its fight against the Russian invasion. It has helped ensure that Putin failed in his initial war aims to conquer and control Ukraine. We cannot rest now. As I assured President Zelenskyy, the American people will continue to stand with the brave Ukrainian people in their fight for freedom,’ Biden said. 

President Joe Biden spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to tell him the United States was sending another $800 million in weapons to help him fight off Vladimir Putin’s forces

Prime Minister Boris Johnson with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, during the prime minister’s visit to Kyiv on Saturday

Karl Nehammer, the Austrian chancellor, traveled to Kyiv on Saturday

Biden is pictured in January 2017 in Kyiv – his most recent visit – with Petro Poroshenko, the then-president

Zelensky said the two men also talked about Russian war crimes in the Ukraine and enhanced financial sanctions on Russia in addition to the additional defensive aid. 

What’s in the $800 million package to Ukraine 

11 Mi-17 helicopters originally earmarked for the U.S.-backed Afghan security forces, prior to the fall of Kabul

18 howitzers and 40,000 artillery rounds

300 Switchblade drones

500 Javelin missiles

200 M113 armored personnel carriers

100 armored high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicles

30,000 sets of body armor

Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear protective equipment

 – Source: Pentagon

‘Continued constant dialogue with @POTUS. Assessed Russian war crimes. Discussed additional package of defensive and possible macro-financial aid. Agreed to enhance sanctions,’ he tweeted.

Biden on Wednesday formally extended U.S. economic sanctions on Russia for another year but no new ones have yet been announced.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told the Economic Club of Washington there are more sanctions coming next week but did not offer any details. 

The U.S. transfer of equipment to Ukraine will include Mi-17 helicopters, howitzer cannons, coastal defense drones and protective suits to safeguard personnel in the event of a chemical, biological or nuclear attack.

But it won’t include any U.S. boots on the ground, the administration reiterated.

‘There will be no U.S. pilots flying the helicopters into Ukraine,’ said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Wednesday.

He said the helicopters will likely be shipped to the region and trucked in. 

The United States has provided more than $2.4 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since President Biden took office last year, including $1.7 billion since Russia launched its invasion Feb. 24. 

Zelensky has pleaded for more sophisticated weapons to counter Putin’s forces. 

Ukrainian defense minister Oleksii Reznikov, who spoke with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday, said his country is seeking additional unmanned aircraft, air-defense systems, artillery, armored vehicles, combat aircraft and anti-ship missiles.

As of Tuesday, the Pentagon was close to finishing its delivery of the last items in an $800 million security assistance package approved by Biden in March.

Those items include Switchblade drones that can be armed with explosives and flown into targets, Stinger antiaircraft missiles, and anti-armor weapons including Javelin missiles.  

‘These items are not sitting around very long,’ a senior defense official said in a briefing with reporters. ‘Once they get into the transshipment sites, they are palletized and put on trucks, those trucks are picked up by Ukrainian armed forces and taken into Ukraine.’

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