Air raid sirens sound during Biden’s Kyiv visit despite US talks with Russia

The White House

Air raid sirens sounded during US President Joe Biden’s visit to Kyiv despite the White House and the Kremlin having engaged in diplomatic talks beforehand.

On February 20, 2023, Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv, a day before an official trip to Poland. Not risking a flight through the contested Ukrainian airspace onboard Air Force One, the US president rode a train from Poland to Kyiv. 

During the six-hour visit, Biden renewed the United States’ support for Ukraine, with commitments to provide additional military equipment. 

“As the world prepares to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, I am in Kyiv today to meet with President Zelenskyy and reaffirm our unwavering and unflagging commitment to Ukraine’s democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity,” Biden said in a statement shared by the White House. “I will announce another delivery of critical equipment, including artillery ammunition, anti-armor systems, and air surveillance radars to help protect the Ukrainian people from aerial bombardments.” 

In December 2022, the US announced the plan to provide MIM-104 Patriot air defense systems to Ukraine. Between 90 and 100 Ukrainian soldiers are slated to complete training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  

Did the White House and the Kremlin agree on a ceasefire? 

The first visit of the US president to the war-torn country was undoubtedly preceded by drastic security measures. Just a day prior, rumors of a visit were dismissed by the White House.  

Hours before the visit was made public, an RC-135V Rivet Joint and two E-3A Sentry observation aircraft operated by the United States Air Force started monitoring the sky of Ukraine from Polish airspace. 

Though it is unclear whether the Kremlin was made aware of the event, “basic communication with the Russians occurred to ensure deconfliction” ahead of the visit, a White House source told the Associated Press. Yet air raid sirens could be heard in the distance while Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy walked the streets of Kyiv. 

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