On Monday, CNN senior national security correspondent Alex Marquardt said that he had not heard any explosions or air sirens in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, until President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to the embattled nation.
Biden made an unexpected visit to Kyiv, staying for about five hours, and meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, just days before the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of the country.
The White House had previously denied that the president made any plans to visit Ukraine ahead of his scheduled trip to Warsaw, Poland.
“I’ve been here for the past five days,” Marquardt said. “I have not heard any explosions, I have not heard any air sirens until about half an hour ago, right when President Biden was in the center of Kyiv.”
Biden appeared with Zelenskyy on the streets of Kyiv, in spite of an air raid siren triggered by a Russian MIG fighter taking off from Belarus, the country bordering Ukraine to the north.
The alarm stopped near the end of Biden’s visit to St. Michael’s monastery in the city’s downtown, where the president paid his respects to nearly 4,500 fallen Ukrainian soldiers, who had fallen since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, the New York Times reported.
Just hours before the president’s arrival, the White House notified Russia of Biden’s trip.
The Hill reported that, while making joint remarks with Zelenskyy, Biden announced $500 million in additional aid to Ukraine, including Javelin missiles, artillery ammunition, and air surveillance radars.
“Together, we’ve committed nearly 700 tanks and thousands of armored vehicles. 1,000 artillery systems, more than 2 million rounds of artillery ammunition, more than 50 advanced launch rocket systems, anti-ship and air defense systems, all to defend Ukraine,” Biden said. “And that doesn’t count the other half a billion dollars we’re announcing with you today and tomorrow that’s going to be coming your way.”
Many conservatives have harshly criticized The Biden administration for its continued financial support of Ukraine in the war, as disasters continue to strike at home. In particular, the Biden administration is facing criticism after it turned down disaster relief funds for Ohio, which is suffering from contaminated water and air following the derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals.