BoJo makes surprise visit to Kyiv on Independence Day, White House answers why Biden hasn’t gone

Source: Hot Air

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Wednesday. He went to show support on Ukraine’s Independence Day. It was Johnson’s third trip to visit President Zelensky. Suddenly the White House found itself answering the question as to why Joe Biden has not made a trip to Kyiv.

The easy answer is that Joe Biden is old and feeble. He doesn’t travel particularly well. Each trip overseas has produced embarrassing moments when Joe misspeaks or other world leaders have to cover for him. He’s not quite ready for days spent in a rocking chair on the porch at one of his houses but he’s getting there quickly. Other world leaders are not dealing with such challenges. Every time a world leader or a top official from another country shows up in Kyiv to visit Zelensky, it’s a well-earned poke to Putin.

It looks like just another photo op with Zelensky but it’s important for the Western world to continue to show support for Ukraine against Russia. Ukraine is far from perfect, riddled with corruption, but it’s no comparison to Russia. The real reason Biden isn’t going to Kyiv any time soon, if ever, is because it is a national security risk. Other world leaders are not as valuable to Putin as the president of the United States. Putin would take out Biden in a heartbeat, given the opportunity as he wages war with Ukraine. It’s not in anyone’s best interests for that to happen. And, no one wants Kamala Harris as president, except Kamala Harris and her family.

Joe Biden will call President Zelensky on Thursday. He has no plans to travel to Ukraine.

John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, said Biden would speak to Zelensky by phone on Thursday.

‘This is the latest in a string of the conversations he has had with President Zelensky,’ he said.

‘Secretary Blinken has travelled to Kyiv. Secretary Austin has travelled to Kyiv.

‘As you know we have an ambassador there as well.

‘We have good connectivity with our Ukrainian counterparts.

‘And look, if and when a trip by the president makes the most sense then clearly we’ll appropriately consider that.’

Biden did announce another military aid package for Ukraine on the day that marks the six month point in Putin’s war. Even then, though, Biden was upstaged by Boris Johnson. He announced the U.K.’s latest package for Ukraine while in Kyiv with Zelensky.

Earlier Biden announced another $2.98 billion in arms for Ukraine, six months after Russia invaded and as it marked independence day.

‘I am proud to announce our biggest tranche of security assistance to date: approximately $2.98 billion of weapons and equipment to be provided through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative,’ he said.

‘This will allow Ukraine to acquire air defense systems, artillery systems and munitions, counter-unmanned aerial systems, and radars to ensure it can continue to defend itself over the long term.’

His was one of a number of announcements by world leaders as they showed solidarity with Zelensky and his nation.

But Johnson, who has only two weeks left in office, upstaged them all by announcing a $63.5 million package during a trip to Kyiv.

‘The UK will continue to stand with our Ukrainian friends. I believe Ukraine can and will win this war,’ he said.

The Mad Man of Moscow fulfilled a concern that an attack on Ukraine’s Independence Day would be launched on Wednesday. There was a strike on a train station in Chaplyne, a town of about 3,500 people in the central Dnipropetrovsk region. Zelensky announced that at least 15 people were killed and dozens were injured.

An attack on a train station is a prized accomplishment for Russian forces. Trains are how many people get from one place to another in Ukraine, including how many world leaders arrive in Ukraine from other countries, usually Poland. Ukrainian air space is closed.

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi visited Kyiv together in June.

They took an 11-hour overnight train from Poland to the Ukrainian capital, one of the only means to get there. Ukrainian airspace has been closed since the invasion began.

Austin and Blinken used the same route in April. But in a sign of the risks, Russia attacked several railway lines soon after they had crossed back into Poland on their way home.

Officials and former officials say it all makes a Biden trip far too risky. And that there is a danger that a visit would pull too many Ukrainian security personnel away from fighting Russia.

BoJo only has two more weeks in office so he probably wanted a symbolic last trip to Ukraine on his way out of office. It was a win for both him and Zelensky. Winter is coming, though, and there is no end in sight to Putin’s war.

With the added $3 billion, the Biden administration will have offered a total of near $14 billion over the course of 19 aid packages since February. That total is in addition to two separate aid packages, one worth $40 billion and one worth $13.6 billion, Congress has approved for Ukraine.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed on Tuesday that the conflict had no end in sight and the two sides were no nearer to the negotiating table.

‘Winter is coming, and it will be hard, and what we see now is a grinding war of attrition. This is a battle of wills, and a battle of logistics. Therefore we must sustain our support for Ukraine for the long term, so that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign, independent nation,’ Stoltenberg said, speaking at a virtual conference about Crimea, organized by Ukraine.

U.S. defense leaders are also eyeing plans that will expand training for Ukrainian troops outside their country, and for militaries on Europe’s eastern and southern flanks that feel most threatened by Russia’s aggression.

Russian forces shelled the cities of Nikopol and Marhanets Wednesday. Several buildings were damaged and two people were wounded. They also shelled the city of Zaporizhzhia, with no casualties reported.