Biden’s visit to Zelensky was prepared in the deepest secrecy

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Biden lays a wreath at the Memorial Wall
NOS News
  • Stijn Wiegerinck

    editor online

Yes, last night there were signals that something special was about to happen in Kyiv today and yes, it had been established for weeks that President Biden would pay a two-day visit to Poland. And yet Biden’s visit to Kyiv has surprised friend and foe alike.

That is because the visit was prepared in the deepest secrecy for months and the White House denied almost to the last that Biden would go to Ukraine. Even in the White House, only a small group of close associates knew about the scheming. Biden only gave the green light on Friday after being informed about the security measures.

In retrospect, a security adviser already hinted something about it on Friday. He was asked during a press briefing whether Biden was likely to meet President Zelensky this week. “No meeting with Zelensky is scheduled at this time,” said adviser John Kirby. But when asked if Biden would cross the border into Ukraine, the answer was “no”.

Not Air Force One

When an American president goes abroad, it is usually accompanied by a large number of employees, security guards and journalists. To minimize the risk of leakage, the group was kept small this time. Biden traveled with three close associates, a few bodyguards, a soldier with the briefcase with the nuclear button, some medics, the White House photographer and two more journalists.

At 3:30 a.m. local time yesterday morning, a small procession of cars left the White House. 45 minutes later, the occupants boarded a C-32, a military version of the Boeing 757, at Andrews Air Force Base. The Air Force One presidential plane remained on the ground to avoid attracting attention.

For the same reason, the C-32 emitted an unobtrusive recognition signal: “SAM060”. During a stopover at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, the transponder went out. An hour later he landed in Poland to travel by train to Kyiv, according to American media. He arrived there at 08:00 this morning.

Moscow informed

It’s not often that an American president travels through a war zone. The Americans resolved this by informing Moscow of the purpose of the trip shortly before leaving Washington. “To de-escalate,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said, and also to prevent the Russians from accidentally targeting Biden.

Ukrainian airspace was monitored from US aircraft over Poland to be on the safe side.

The inhabitants of Kyiv knew nothing at that time. The rumor that something special would happen the next day only arose on Sunday evening. NOS correspondent Kysia Hekster found instructions from the Ukrainian security services when she returned to her hotel room in the center of Kyiv. “Tomorrow between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. it is strictly forbidden to open the windows,” the letter said.

Center closed

Biden left this morning after arriving in Kyiv with a convoy to the presidential palace. The center was closed to other traffic at the time. People said they had never experienced anything like this,” Hekster said on NPO Radio 1. It was clear that a special person would come. Many people already speculated that this would be Biden.

Footage surfaced during the morning of Biden’s visit to the wall in central Kyiv featuring photos of Ukrainians who lost their lives in the war. During this visit, the air raid siren went off, but Biden did not abort the visit.

That the ‘special person’ was US President Biden had been known for a long time. Images of the presidential procession and the visit to the wall spread quickly.

“People are extremely excited,” Hekster said. “It’s been described as spectacular. I’ve spoken to people who, when they realized Biden was here, immediately ran from work hoping to catch another glimpse of him, but in vain because he was already gone. “

Five hours after arriving in Kyiv, Biden left for Poland. He had pledged another half a billion dollars in military aid, on top of the nearly $50 billion in aid and weapons already provided. President Zelensky called the visit a “great support for Ukraine”.

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