US President Joe Biden said on Thursday that he and his administration were still evaluating the feasibility of sending a senior member of his administration to support Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.
When asked if he would send a top official to Ukraine, Biden answered, “We’re making that decision now.” In response to the question of who he would send, Biden turned to a reporter and replied, “Are you ready to go?”
A number of Western officials have been to Kyiv since the Russian military withdrew from the territory surrounding the Ukrainian capital to show their solidarity.
According to a source familiar with the proceedings, US officials have held preliminary discussions about sending a high-ranking member of the administration to Ukraine.
While Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are unlikely to visit Kyiv anytime soon, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have been discussed. Nonetheless, sources claim that a decision is still pending, and that the visit may not take place.
Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, paid a surprise visit to Kyiv last weekend. Biden is not currently planning a trip of his own, according to US authorities.
“We’re not currently planning a trip by the President of the United States to Ukraine,” said press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday. A continuing supply of weaponry and support, she argued, was more crucial than a presidential visit.
“What is most important to the Ukrainian leadership is that we are expediting weapons and getting them the assistance and security systems they need and that is what our focus is on,” she added.
Biden notified Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky of a new $800 million security support package, which includes 11 Mi-17 helicopters, 300 Switchblade drones, 18 Howitzers, and protective equipment against chemical assaults, during a phone call on Wednesday.
Biden told charity workers during a last-minute trip to Poland last month that he would have preferred to visit Ukraine to observe the situation up close.
“They will not let me, understandably, I guess, cross the border and take a look at what’s going on in Ukraine,” Biden said.
Before the trip, the White House stated that they had not considered a visit to Ukraine.
Biden “would love the opportunity to go to Ukraine to show solidarity with the Ukrainians,” according to national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who claimed the topic was discussed before Biden’s trip to Warsaw last month.
According to Sullivan, one of the topics discussed was the size of the footprint needed to secure the President’s protection. He stressed, though, that it was “not under any serious planning,” and he declined to comment further on claims that a top US official may visit Kyiv soon.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Thursday that the US administration will not return assets frozen as a result of Western sanctions.
“Our goal is not to give them back. Our goal is to put them to a better use than that. But I’ll be careful in what I say today because there’s an ongoing kind of policy process around how we end up dealing with that question. But rest assured, the goal is not just to sit on them for a while and then pass them all back,” in response to a question about whether frozen assets such as pricey yachts and personal belongings can be returned, the official stated.
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