U.S. President Joe Biden made a brief surprise trip to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Monday to pledge his "unwavering and unflagging commitment" ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion, which has left tens of thousands dead, sparked a massive humanitarian crisis, and raised fears of a broader war between nuclear powers.
During Biden's visit to Kyiv, his first since Russia's invasion on February 24 of last year, he announced a fresh $500 million in military assistance to Ukraine, adding to the more than $100 billion in total aid the U.S. has delivered to Ukraine since the start of the devastating war.
After a meeting with Biden, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he and the U.S. president "discussed the future provision of longer-range missiles that Ukraine had not yet received," the Financial Timesreported.
The aid package announced Monday includes funding for air surveillance radars, anti-tank missiles, and artillery ammunition.
"Later this week, we will announce additional sanctions against elites and companies that are trying to evade or backfill Russia's war machine," Biden said in a statement. "Over the last year, the United States has built a coalition of nations from the Atlantic to the Pacific to help defend Ukraine with unprecedented military, economic, and humanitarian support—and that support will endure."
Biden's trip came a day before Russian President Vladimir Putin's expected state of the nation address on Tuesday, his first such speech since April 2021. Estimates of Russia's death toll from the war vary widely, ranging from fewer than 10,000 troops killed to upwards of 200,000.
The one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion will come as the prospects of a diplomatic resolution appear as remote as ever. As the Associated Pressreported Monday, "Biden is trying to keep allies unified in their support for Ukraine as the war is expected to intensify with spring offensives."
"Zelenskyy is pressing allies to speed up delivery of promised weapon systems and calling on the West to provide fighter jets—something that Biden has declined to do," the outlet noted. "The U.S. president got a taste of the terror that Ukrainians have lived with for close to a year when air raids sirens howled just as he and Zelenskyy wrapped up a visit to the gold-domed St. Michael's Cathedral."
On Thursday, a day before the anniversary, the 193-member United Nations General Assembly is expected to vote on a nonbinding resolution calling for "a cessation of hostilities" in Ukraine and "a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace" deal "as soon as possible."
A final draft of the resolution, circulated by the European Union, also urges U.N. member states "redouble support for diplomatic efforts" to end the war.