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Plane to train — Intricate details of Biden’s secret visit to Kyiv hours after notifying Russia revealed

US President Joe Biden with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at Mariyinsky Palace in Kyiv on Monday (Image courtesy: Twitter/@WhiteHouse)

Washington has acknowledged that it had notified Russia in advance that the US President Joe Biden would be travelling to Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Monday.

“We did notify the Russians that President Biden would be traveling to Kyiv. We did so some hours before his departure for de-confliction purposes,” US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan revealed earlier today.

“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 added.

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com, Former Russian Prime Minister and President Dmitry Medvedev, who is also Deputy Head of Russia’s Security Council, stated on Monday that the US President had received safety guarantees from Moscow before taking off for Ukraine.

“Biden, having previously received security guarantees, finally went to Kyiv,” Medvedev wrote on his Telegram account without giving much details.

Details have now emerged of Biden’s surprise visit to Kyiv – termed by the White House as “historic and unprecedented” and “in the face of extreme difficulty” to an active warzone – just a few days ahead of the first anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine war on February 24.

Washington stated that unlike previous visits from US Presidents to warzones, like Iraq and Afghanistan, a visit from a sitting head of state to Ukraine where the US does not have a military presence on the ground, made things all the more challenging.

“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,” said White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield.

The US officials mentioned that it required a security, operational, and logistical effort from professionals across the US government to take what was an “inherently risky undertaking” and make it a manageable level of risk.

The entire operation, they said, was meticulously planned over a period of months, involving several offices in the White House as well as from the Pentagon, the US Secret Service, and the intelligence community, which offered threat assessments on the visit.

“Only a handful of people in each of these buildings was involved in the planning for operational security. The President was fully briefed on each stage of the plan and any potential contingencies, and then made the final “go” or “no go” decision after a huddle in the Oval Office and by phone with some key members of his national security cabinet on Friday,” said Sullivan.

The travelling party accompanying the US President was also extremely small, consisting basically of a handful of his closest aides, including Sullivan, small medical team, photographer, and the security package.

All this, the US NSA revealed further, was worked very closely between the White House and the highest levels of the Ukrainian government, who he said have become “quite adept at hosting high-level visitors, although not one quite like this”, and with the US embassy in Kyiv which played a key role as an intermediary.

While the officials in Washington held back details on mode of transportation and other specific logistics saying they’ll allow the trip to “play out and finish out” – Biden has now arrived in Poland – it has been reported that the US President flew from the Andrews Air Force Base to the Ramstein Air Base in Germany in the early hours of Sunday.

“The presidential aircraft remained with its shades down for the duration of its time on the ground. After dark, Air Force One flew to Poland’s AF1 Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport. From there, the entourage boarded trains destined for Kyiv. Much of the last leg, a 10-hour train ride, occurred in the dark so there was little visible beyond streetlights and the shadows of buildings in the distance,” reported The Wall Street Journal whose White House reporter Sabrina Siddiqui was part of the small travelling group accompanying Biden on the secret trip.

The US media said that Biden, who spent around five hours in Kyiv, took the same 10-hour train ride back into Poland.

Also Read: Biden pays surprise visit to Kyiv amid Russian claims of providing security guarantees