For obvious security reasons, Joe Biden’s visit to Kyiv was kept under wraps until the last second. But, according to the details that emerged from the Ukrainian capital, today’s stage could have been a more impromptu and decisive step in the last few days. On the contrary, the dates and the current political and military conditions suggest the possibility of a visit that had already been planned for weeks and with clear historical and political significance.
The choice of date
At first glance, one might think that arriving in Kyiv today was a way for Biden to remember the upcoming first anniversary of the conflict. The first bombs on the Ukrainian capital fell on February 24, 2022. The war will enter its second year of life in just four days.
In reality, as highlighted in Repubblica, the US president wanted to remember an important date today. But it did not concern the current conflict but what happened nine years ago. Indeed, on February 20, 2014, the final and bloodiest phase of the riots in Maidan Square began.
The protests then culminated with the dethronement of former president Viktor Yanukovych, who fled first to Kharkiv and then to Russia. The latter has always spoken of a coup d’état, and even Moscow considers what happened nine years ago a real coup. For the US, however, the ouster of Yanukovych coincided with the beginning of a new Ukrainian path towards the West.
But, above all, Washington is in line with the thesis of post-Maidan Ukrainian governments, according to which, in those days, there was no coup d’état but a revolution. The US Democrats and President Joe Biden fully endorse the thesis. So the head of the White House, arriving in Kyiv today, wanted to remember the victims of February 20 nine years ago.
It is no coincidence that with President Zelensky, Biden immediately visited the memorial erected in the square before the monastery of San Michele. Here are the faces of those who died on February 20, 2014. It is estimated that at least a hundred demonstrators were killed in the clashes of those hours. The memorial was then enlarged, welcoming the faces and names of the Ukrainian fallen in the Donbas.
The signal is clear: the White House today supports Ukraine, attacked by Russia and Ukraine in the streets nine years ago against a pro-Russian president.
What’s at stake
Undoubtedly the signal launched in these hours is aimed primarily at Moscow. But the Kremlin is not the only recipient. Biden arrived in Kyiv in a very delicate phase of the war. Russia is trying to break through to Donbas, and Vladimir Putin will address the nation tomorrow. Perhaps announcing new military efforts aimed at Ukraine.
Kyiv, therefore increasingly needs the support of both the US and NATO. The White House thus wanted to send the signal to the West as well. Fears of a breakup of the Western bloc supporting Kyiv are being considered in Washington. Above all, among US leaders, the fact is known that a possible Western breakup constitutes Putin’s main hope of winning the conflict.
Therefore, Biden reaffirmed their willingness to support Ukraine for the necessary time with today’s stop. As emerged on Politico, the US president may have also suggested to Zelensky that he now plan the counterattacks, taking advantage of the current continuous arrival of Western supplies.