(CNSNews.com) – Former Russian president and close Putin ally Dimitry Medvedev said Monday President Biden had received “security guarantees” ahead of his unannounced trip to Kyiv. The White House said it notified Moscow ahead of the visit “for deconfliction purposes.”
Medvedev, now deputy chairman of President Vladimir Putin’s national security council, made the claim in a post on his Telegram channel in which he also referred derisively to the president of the United States as “the old man from across the ocean” and to Ukrainian leaders as a “gang of drug addicts.”
“Biden, having previously received security guarantees, finally went to Kyiv,” Medvedev said. “He promised a lot of weapons and swore allegiance to the neo-Nazi regime to the grave. And of course, there were mutual spells about the victory that would come with new weapons and a courageous people.”
Biden spent five hours in the Ukrainian capital on Monday, arriving by train after a ten-hour journey from southeastern Poland, and leaving the same way. Details of the travel arrangements were kept under wraps and only released by a pool reporter after the president’s train had crossed back into Poland.
In a briefing on the trip, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters that the White House “did notify the Russians that President Biden would be traveling to Kyiv. We did so some hours before his departure for deconfliction purposes.”
He said he would not provide details of how the message was conveyed, or Moscow’s response, “but I can confirm that we provided that notification.”
Sullivan said it was “unprecedented in modern times” for a U.S. president to visit the capital of a country of war, in a situation “where the United States military does not control the critical infrastructure.”
“And that required a security, operational, and logistical effort from professionals across the U.S. government to take what was an inherently risky undertaking and make it a manageable level of risk.”
“Unlike previous visits from presidents to warzones, like Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. obviously does not have a military presence on the ground in Ukraine, which made a visit from a sitting president all the more challenging,” said White House communications director Kate Bedingfield, also briefing.
“But this was a risk that Joe Biden wanted to take. It’s important to him to show up, even when it’s hard, and he directed his team to make it happen, no matter how challenging the logistics.”
(Russia carried out missile strikes against targets in Kyiv last April during a visit by U.N. secretary-general Antonio Guterres for talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The incident occurred one day after Guterres had met with Putin in Moscow.)
Russia’s sour response to the president’s visit to Kyiv was evident not just in Medvedev’s acerbic post. On her Telegram channel, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova directed her animosity towards the man standing alongside Biden in Kyiv, Zelenskyy, whom she suggested would one day fall out of favor.
“Looking at today’s footage of Biden with his ward Zelenskyy from Kyiv, do not forget the fate of all previous American projects,” she wrote, citing former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
“The fate of Saakashvili, the fate of Guaidó – this is what awaits all those who have sold their souls to the Americans: damned by their own people, needed by no one, forced to spend lavishly on American lawyers the money earned in America from betraying their countries.”
Biden’s visit to Ukraine came days before the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion, and was slotted in at the beginning of a previously-announced three-day trip to Poland.
Russia’s news agency TASS quoted two Russian political analysts as suggesting other motives for the timing of the visit.
Andrey Bystritsky, an expert with the influential Valdai Discussion Club think tank, said the visit was intended to divert attention away from Putin’s state of the nation address to both houses of the Russian parliament on Tuesday.
“We are witnessing a propaganda salvo from the West against Russia,” he said. “It is an attempt to intercept the agenda.”
(Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian television Putin would “pay particular attention” in his annual address to the “special military operation” in Ukraine.)
Bystritsky also pointed to domestic politics in the U.S., arguing that Biden has not achieved much as president, but that “success in Ukraine would give the Democrats a huge competitive edge in the next presidential election.”
TASS cited another analyst, Dmitry Suslov of the Comprehensive European and International Studies program at the Higher School of Economics, as saying Biden’s visit was designed to encourage Kyiv to launch a counteroffensive as soon as possible.
After Biden left Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a new package of $450 million worth of security assistance, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, munitions for howitzers and the HIMARS rocket system, anti-armor systems, and air surveillance radars.
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