White House denies Russia provided guarantee for Biden's Kyiv trip

White House denies Russian claims that it provided security guarantee for Biden’s secret trip to Kyiv: Jake Sullivan says Moscow was given outline of president’s movements but offered no promises

  • The White House said Russia offered no security guarantee for Biden’s trip
  • The visit was cloaked in secrecy to protect the president inside a war zone 
  • National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Moscow was warned in advance 

One of President Joe Biden’s top aides denied Russian claims that the Kremlin guaranteed his safety ahead of a clandestine trip to Kyiv on Monday. 

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed that Moscow had been informed of the president’s planned travel to avoid any misunderstandings.

‘They acknowledged receipt,’ he told reporters in Warsaw, Poland, a day later. ‘End of story.’

Biden’s visit was cloaked in secrecy. He flew out of Washington early on Sunday morning, before landing in Poland and making the 10-hour train journey to  Ukraine’s war-torn capital.

He promised more weapons for Ukraine and delivered a publicity coup for Ukrainian President Vlodomyr Zelensky, much to Moscow’s fury.

President Joe Biden (left) sits across from his National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan (left) as he takes a 10-hour train from Poland to Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sunday night

Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman and former Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev wrote on his Telegram channel: ‘Biden, having previously received security guarantees, finally went to Kyiv. 

‘He promised many weapons and swore allegiance to the neo-Nazi regime to the grave. And, of course, there were mutual incantations of victory, which will come with new weapons and courageous people.’

But it was nonsense to suggest that any guarantees were made, said Sullivan, who accompanied Biden on the trip. 

He explained that Moscow had been notified to ensure they did not misunderstand any increase in security activity in the region.

‘Just to let them know he would be there in this time period,’ he said. ‘And the means by which he was travelling, and then he would be out on this timetable, the means by which he was travelling out. 

‘We conveyed that information.’

The Russians did not respond, he said ‘other than to acknowledge receipt of the notification.’

The White House revealed a day earlier that it warned the Kremlin before Biden’s trip. 

Sullivan said it was for ‘deconfliction purposes’ before Biden headed into an active war zone where the U.S. has no military presence and only some embassy staff. 

Some MAGA-aligned Republicans back home grumbled that Biden made this journey instead of visiting East Palestine, Ohio, the site of a toxic train derailment earlier this month. 

President Joe Biden (center) poses for a photo with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (right) and Olena Zelenska (left) outside Mariinsky Palace in Kyiv, Ukraine on Monday 

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters that the Kremlin was informed of Biden’s travels to Kyiv prior to his arrival. Russian President Vladimir Putin is photographed Thursday

President Joe Biden (left) walks alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (right) outside of St. Michael’s Gold-Domed Cathedral during Monday’s surprise trip to Kyiv

‘When our border is in crisis, Joe Biden goes home to nap in Delaware. When Ohio burns with toxic chemicals, Biden’s admin says everything is fine. So, on Presidents’ Day, I’m not surprised that Biden is ditching America for Ukraine,’ tweeted Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz. ‘He ditched America’s interests since the start of his presidency. They can keep him!’ 

Other Republicans charged that Biden cared more about Ukraine’s border than the one between the U.S. and Mexico.

‘Breathtaking that President Biden can show up in Ukraine to ensure their border is secure, but can’t do the same for America,’ tweeted Rep. Scott Perry, a Republican from Pennsylvania. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sang a similar tune.

‘I think I and many Americans are thinking to ourselves that he is very concerned about those borders halfway around the world. He’s not doing anything to secure our own border here at home,’ DeSantis said during an appearance on Fox & Friends.

‘He had millions and millions of people pour in, tens of thousands of Americans dead,’ DeSantis added, referring to fentanyl trafficking, which has spiked the number of U.S. drug overdoses.

Democrats, on the other hand, largely praised Biden for making the trip. 

Sullivan and other White House officials divulged some details about the planning of the trip after Biden departed from Ukraine’s capital Monday.

‘We did notify the Russians that President Biden would be traveling to Kyiv. We did so some hours before his departure for deconfliction purposes,’ Sullivan said.

He didn’t give details on what the U.S. specifically said to the Russians. 

‘And because of the sensitive nature of those communications I won’t get into how they responded or what the precise nature of our message was, but I can confirm that we provided that notification,’ he said on the call.

The White House was also tight-lipped on Biden’s means of travel. 

‘We will share it, but we just want to make sure we do so once we feel that it’s operationally safe to do so,’ Sullivan said.

WRONG TRAIN, JOE: Republicans complained that President Joe Biden’s priority should have been the town of East Palestine, Ohio, where a train derailment caused a major environmental disaster. Biden is shown on board the train that took him inside Ukraine Monday 

President Joe Biden took the smaller Air Force One, an Air Force C-32, for the secret trip. Instead of flying under the Air Force One call sign it was labeled ‘SAM060,’ for Special Air Mission 

However, the New York Times reported that Biden crossed the border by rail. 

Later, the two-member press pool reported that Biden flew to Poland on the smaller Air Force One, an Air Force C-32, not one of the Boeing 747s he’d usually take on an overseas trip.

The plane sat in the dark next to a hangar, instead of being parked on the tarmac where the presidential aircraft is parked before an official departure. 

The plane didn’t fly under the Air Force One call sign but rather ‘SAM060,’ for Special Air Mission. 

It was refueled at Ramstein Air Base in Germany and the blinds were kept drawn during the hour and a half on the ground.

After Biden’s plane departed Germany, the pilots switched off its transponder for the hour-long remainder of the journey to the Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport in Poland, whidh has been used for other VIP visits and for western arms to get into the war-torn country.

Biden then boarded a train at the Przemyśl Główny station, for a 10-hour journey through the night that would take him secretly into Ukraine’s capital. 

Upon his arrival in Kyiv, Biden was driven around in a black SUV instead of the Beast, the nickname for the armored presidential limo. 

The trip was to remain secret until Biden left Ukraine’s capital, but that changed once locals started capturing and sharing images of Biden and Zelensky walking around.

President Joe Biden walks along the train platform after his visit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Monday 

President Joe Biden (left) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (right) at Mariinsky Palace during Monday’s trip

President Joe Biden (left) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (right) walk past St. Mikhailovsky Cathedral in Kyiv on Monday 

President Joe Biden (left) signs a guestbook at Mariinsky Palace on Monday as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (right) looks on 

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and U.S. President Joe Biden stand next to a plaque with the president’s name on the Alley of Bravery in Kyiv on February 20, 2023.

Even among the ranks of American government, the trip was a closely guarded secret. 

Those involved in the planning came from the White House, the chief of staff’s office, the National Security Council, the White House Military Office, the Pentagon, the Secret Service and the intelligence community. 

‘Only a handful of people in each of these buildings was involved in the planning for operational security,’ Deputy National Security Advisor Jonathan Finer told reporters. 

The trip was made more difficult with no American military personnel on the ground in Ukraine and only a slim U.S. embassy staff. 

‘The United States also has a very light embassy footprint compared to the massive operations in Afghanistan and Iraq during wartime visits by presidents to those places,’ Finer said. 

Additionally, the president traveled with an ‘extremely small’ party, Finer said, consisting of a handful of his closest aides, including Sullivan, a small medical team, security and two reporters. 

The two reporters – a newspaper reporter and a photographer – had their phones taken away from them as they departed.  

The rest of Biden’s press pool – which usually consists of around a dozen journalists – was left in Washington.  

For days, the White House had publicly said the trip to mark the Ukraine war anniversary was to be strictly to Warsaw, Poland, where the president is scheduled to meet with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda and the leaders of the Bucharest Nine nations. 

That part of the trip is expected to go on as planned. 

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