Biden in Kyiv: what’s the message?
Shortly before the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, US President Joe Biden met with his counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv and pledged his continuing support and further arms deliveries. Afterwards, Biden travelled on to Warsaw. Europe’s press deciphers the signals this surprise visit to Kyiv has sent.
The right moment
With his Kyiv visit Biden is sending a message not just to Moscow, Rzeczpospolita suspects:
“On Tuesday morning, Vladimir Putin was supposed to announce a new phase in Ukraine in his state of the nation address. But Biden beat him to it and put him on the defensive. This is surely his reaction to China’s preparations to support Russia directly, including with arms deliveries. If Xi Jinping decides to do this, he will be engaging in a direct confrontation with America — this is the message Joe Biden is sending with his visit to Kyiv.”
Putin doesn’t even dare visit Donetsk
For Denník N, one thing was particularly striking during this visit:
“Biden is hardly perfect, but the contrast with the Russian bunker president is striking. Cowardly Putin has been hiding for years. First from Covid, now from assassination. This man who kills tens of thousands can have an entire ensemble of vetted FSB agents accompany him anywhere. But even so, he didn’t dare visit the new ‘Russian’ territories temporarily stolen from Ukraine. ... Vladimir Putin will never visit Kyiv again. Because he knows very well that he would be in mortal danger every step of the way.”
Kyiv is the new West Berlin
The focus of US-European policy has shifted eastwards, notes the Tagesspiegel:
“Biden is giving the big speech on the war in Warsaw. He is meeting there with the presidents of the ‘Bucharest Nine’ (Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary). Berlin, Paris and London are not on his itinerary. The free part of Ukraine has assumed the role and aura that West Berlin had during the Cold War. The eastern allies are now the frontline states of the West. Neither the EU nor Western Europe alone can guarantee their security. These peoples put their trust in the US.”
A signal to US voters
The Neue Zürcher Zeitung says the US president also wanted to make it clear that he is fit enough for another term in office:
“Biden is showing the world that an American president has nothing to fear, not even from a brutal warmonger like Putin. ... Such a trip is not for Sleepy Joe, the caricature Biden’s opponent Donald Trump presented of his four-years-older rival in the last election campaign. It is thus also a deliberate demonstration of the octogenarian president’s vitality and initiative, aimed primarily at voters in the US. In Washington, Biden’s candidacy for a second term is expected to be announced soon.”