How Joe Biden managed to keep his visit to Kyiv a secret

At 10:20 a.m. on Sunday, the journalist on duty at the White House warns the media that nothing is planned on Joe Biden’s agenda for this day of Sunday rest. In reality, the American president, one of the most scrutinized men on the planet, is already over the Atlantic to reach Poland, then Ukraine, where he showed his support for Volodymyr Zelensky, this Monday, during a surprise visit to Kiev. A high-risk trip that the White House managed to keep secret until the end.

A departure at dawn

Joe Biden was originally scheduled to take off on Monday for a visit to Poland, on the eve of the first anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces. If the media speculated on a possible visit to Ukraine on this occasion, the White House took everyone by surprise: Joe Biden took off aboard Air Force One at dawn, Sunday, at 4:15 a.m.

On board the presidential Boeing 747: Joe Biden, his national security adviser Jake Sullivan, his deputy chief of staff, Jen O’Malley Dillon, members of the Secret Service providing security for American presidents, medical personnel and a soldier carrying nuclear football, the nuclear suitcase that follows presidents wherever they go. And two journalists – instead of the usual 13 – held incommunicado, who had to part with their phones when boarding, a usual security measure for unannounced trips. They were only able to notify their editorial staff when they arrived in kyiv.

After this transatlantic flight to Poland, Joe Biden reached kyiv by train, a trip that lasted about ten hours.

Moscow warned for security reasons

Jake Sullivan clarified that Moscow had been warned of the arrival of Joe Biden, to lower the risks. “We gave the Russians good warning that President Biden would be traveling to kyiv. We did it a few hours before he left,” said Jake Sullivan, adding that “due to the sensitive nature of these exchanges,” he did not wish to elaborate “on how they responded, or what was the exact nature of our message”.

Washington has promised a new envelope of 500 million dollars for armaments for Ukraine. “Putin thought Ukraine was weak and the West was divided. He was completely wrong. A year later, here we are, united with the people of Ukraine,” said Joe Biden, who stood alongside Volodymyr Zelensky as the warning sirens sounded in Kyiv. The Ukrainian president thanked his counterpart for a “historic and courageous” visit.

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