President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Monday nearly one year after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Biden walked down the streets of the Ukrainian capital with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as air sirens blared in the background, CNN reported. The show of support came months after Zelenskyy traveled to D.C. to meet with Biden in the Oval Office and address a joint session of Congress.
"One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands," Biden said, announcing a $500 million package of additional assistance to Ukraine, including military equipment and ammunition.
Biden also announced new sanctions against Russia over its "brutal invasion."
"When Putin launched his invasion nearly one year ago, he thought Ukraine was weak and the West was divided. He thought he could outlast us. But he was dead wrong," Biden said, adding that later this week the government will "announce additional sanctions against elites and companies that are trying to evade or backfill Russia's war machine."
Biden is the latest world leader to visit Ukraine amid its fight against Russia, joining the likes of French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak. First lady Jill Biden also made a surprise visit to a small town in western Ukraine last Mother's Day.
"I thought it was critical that there not be any doubt, none whatsoever, about US support for Ukraine in the war," Biden told reporters during a joint appearance with Zelenskyy. "The Ukrainian people have stepped up in a way that few people ever have in the past."
Biden during his comments emphasized that Ukraine maintains bipartisan support even as a growing number of Republicans push back on additional aid.
"For all the disagreement we have in our Congress on some issues, there is significant agreement on support for Ukraine… It's not just about freedom in Ukraine … It's about freedom of democracy at large," he said.
But some House Republicans quickly seized on the visit, criticizing Biden over the trip.
"This is incredibly insulting," tweeted Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. "Today on our President's Day, Joe Biden, the President of the United States chose Ukraine over America, while forcing the American people to pay for Ukraine's government and war. I can not express how much Americans hate Joe Biden."
Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., wrote that it was "breathtaking that President Biden can show up in Ukraine to ensure their border is secure, but can't do the same for America."
Donald Trump Jr. tweeted, "Of course Joe Biden is in Ukraine and not Ohio…Because screw Americans."
Biden made the decision to travel to Kyiv on Friday after huddling with national security advisers at the Oval Office, officials told CNN. The U.S. informed Russia of the plan a few hours before Biden departed for "deconfliction purposes," national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.
"This was risk that Joe Biden wanted to take," said communications director Kate Bedingfield. "It's important to him to show up, even when it's hard, and he directed his team to make it happen no matter how challenging the logistics."
Biden during his remarks said nearly a year after the invasion, "Putin's war of conquest is failing."
"Putin thought Ukraine was weak and the West was divided. He thought he could outlast us. I don't think he's thinking that right now," he said. "He's just been plain wrong. One year later, the evidence is right here in this room. We stand here together," he added.
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Biden during his speech recalled how "Russian planes were in the air and tanks were going across your border" when he spoke to Zelenskyy by phone ahead of the invasion.
"You told me that you could hear explosions in the background. I'll never forget that," Biden said, recalling Zelenskyy's plea to rally world leaders behind Ukraine.
"One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands," Biden added. "The Americans stand with you and the world stands with you."
Zelenskyy said Biden's visit "brings us closer to victory."
Zelenskyy said the two leaders have discussed the U.S. sending additional military hardware to Ukraine and described the recent decision to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine as pivotal.
"The decision of the US on Abrams tanks has already presented a foundation for establishing a tank coalition and is of historic importance," he said. "We've also talked about long-range weapons and the weapons that may still be supplied to Ukraine – even though have not been supplied before."
Zelenskyy added that the "results of this visit will surely be seen, and will surely have repercussions on the battlefield in liberating our territories."